“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, February 21, 1922, 70 bis, rue Notre Dame des Champs, Paris

Irish-American lawyer, John Quinn, 51, has been ill recently and this has cut into his time, not only as a successful corporate lawyer, but also as a patron of artists and writers, including Irish novelist James Joyce, 40, living in Paris.

Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses has just been published in Paris by an American ex-pat bookstore owner, with financial help from Quinn. He and Shakespeare and Company owner Sylvia Beach, 34, have been tussling with each other in letters. She’s always asking for money to support Joyce, and Quinn wonders if the writer really needs that much support. Quinn is sure Beach is getting her share of the profits. Although she has told him that Joyce’s royalty is going to be an outstanding 66%.

Sylvia Beach

Recently Beach wrote to Quinn to smooth things over: 

I know that no matter how testy you like to seem, you are the kindest man alive.”

Today, another one of Joyce’s American supporters, ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, 36, also living in Paris, is writing one of his usual lengthy and colorful letters, to bring Quinn up to date on the writers he is supporting:

Cher ami:

“I am sorry you have been ill; has anyone suggested that you work too much. Most men stop when buried, but I see you pushing up the lid of the cercueil, or having a telephone fixed inside the damn thing ante mortem, so that you can dictate to the office…

Ezra Pound

Joyce told me yesterday that his english patron [publisher Harriet Shaw Weaver] had come across with another $1000, so that his income, “unearned” (or damn well earned) is now about £450 per year. So that’s that. I dont think Miss Bitch (as the name is pronounced by Parisians) was writing [at Joyce’s] instigation…

“She has been very sporting over Ulysses, but she is bone ignorant and lacking in tact. (I mean, in my own case, that she insults me every other time I go into the shop, in perfect, oh, I am convinced, in perfect unconsciousness of the fact. She has nothing to gain by insulting me)…

“That I think is a fair definition of tactlessness:  to insult when you dont mean to….

“I am worried about [poet T. S.] Eliot; and if you start chucking money about, I shd. certainly make out a case for him, now, before anyone else…

“Eliot came back from his Lausanne specialist looking O.K.; and with a damn good poem (19 pages) in his suit case…

“[New York publisher Horace] Liveright made a good impression here; offered to bring out Ulysses in the U. S. and hand over 1000 bones to J. J[oyce]. Why the hell J. J. didn’t nail it AT once I don’t know. The terms were o. k. 1000 dollars for first edition, etc…However, Joyce is off my hands; free, white, 21 years or more, of age etc…

“Eliot ought to be private secretary to some rich imbecile…failing that you might send over someone to elope, kidnap, or otherwise eliminate Mrs. E[liot]…

“Hell, mon cher, will you retire sensibly now? Or will you insist [on] being useful to other people until it is too late?…

“So far it has been a winter without colds in the head. Hope to get some Italian sun in April. Have bought lire with that intent, as their value on the exchange seems to be drifting up.

“yours ever

“Ezra Pound”

Pound’s unique spelling and punctuation have been left intact.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Thanks to all who came out in record-breaking rainfall to see my presentation about Gertrude Stein at Riverstone Books. This summer I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, January 20, 1922, 9 Clarence Gate Gardens, Marylebone, London; and 70 bis, rue Notre Dame-des-Champs, Paris

Tom Eliot, 33, part-time poet, full-time Lloyds bank clerk, has been putting off writing this letter to Scofield Thayer, 32, editor of the American literary magazine, The Dial.

Clarence Gate Gardens

Eliot didn’t want to write more excuses why he can’t submit his “London Letter” column again. So Tom wants to suggest that he will continue the column, but, rather than reviewing specific books, that he will write about life in England in general.

Eliot has been back in colder, more expensive London for just a few days, and he is missing Paris. He was supposed to return to his job at Lloyds this week. But he’s come down with [luckily!] a serious case of the influenza that’s spreading around the country. And with his wife Vivien, 33, still in France, Eliot is working hard on finishing up his still untitled epic and would like to get it published as soon as possible. This forced isolation is a godsend.

Last fall, he’d been granted a three-month leave of absence from his job at Lloyds. They agreed when, not only Viv, but also one of London’s leading nerve specialists said Tom was having a breakdown. Tom spent part of his leave receiving treatment in Switzerland—which helped a bit—and the past two weeks in Paris working hard on the poem, collaborating [which he really enjoyed] with fellow American ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, 36, to cut it to the bone. Now Tom feels much more confident that this is his best work.

In his letter to Thayer, he assures the editor that he will be able to send the finished poem along soon: 

It has been three times through the sieve by Pound as well as myself so should be in final form.”

At 450 lines, in four sections, it can easily be spread across four issues of the magazine. Eliot also tells Thayer that the poem will not be published in England until he hears back from The Dial. Quickly, he hopes.

And, Eliot adds, he is curious as to “approximately what The Dial would offer.”

Eliot doesn’t mention that, at a particularly drunken dinner in Paris with Pound and Horace Liveright, 37, the American publisher expressed interest in having his firm, Boni and Liveright, bring out the poem in book form. If it is long enough.

The Dial


Meanwhile, back in Paris, Pound has also been writing to Thayer, telling him to overlook Eliot’s annoying characteristics and constant excuses. Pound really wants The Dial to publish this major poem, and he is trying to find other ways to get Eliot some income so he can leave that godawful desk job at the bank.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

On February 3, 2022, we will be celebrating the 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgher Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. You can register for this free event, or sign up to watch it via Zoom, here

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

At the end of February I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

‘Such Friends’: May, 1925

In England…

Virginia Woolf, 43, is anticipating the reviews for her fourth novel, Mrs. Dalloway, which she and her husband Leonard, 44, have just published at their own Hogarth Press, with another cover by her sister, Vanessa Bell, 45.

mrs dalloway original cover

She has been working on it for the past three years, building on short stories she had written, and experimenting with stream of consciousness. The beginning of this year was spent on the rewriting, which, she had confided to her diary, was

‘the dullest part…most depressing & exacting.’

Leonard is enthusiastic. He feels it is Virginia’s best work. But he has to think that, doesn’t he?

Last month, the Woolfs had brought out a collection of her critical essays, The Common Reader, also with a Vanessa cover. Virginia had worried that it would receive

‘a dull chill depressing reception [and be] a complete failure.’

Actually, there have been good reviews in the Manchester Guardian and the Observer newspapers, and sales are beginning to pick up a bit.

The-Common-Reader- cover 1st ed

The ten-year-old Hogarth Press is doing quite well, having survived a succession of different assistants. They had published 16 titles the previous year and are on schedule for more this year. In addition to writing their most successful works, Virginia has been closely involved with the choice of manuscripts among those submitted by eager novelists and poets, as well as setting the type. She finds it calming.

Despite the stress of a new publication, physically Virginia is feeling quite well. She and Leonard have been busy in London with Hogarth, but also getting out and about with family and friends. Fellow writer Lytton Strachey, 45, had praised The Common Reader, but thinks that Mrs. Dalloway is just

‘a satire of a shallow woman.’

Virginia noted in her diary,

‘It’s odd that when…the others (several of them) say it is a masterpiece, I am not much exalted; when Lytton picks holes, I get back into my working fighting mood.’

Virginia’s literary competition with Lytton—he has always outsold her—is motivating her to get to work on her next major novel. She’s thinking of writing about her childhood, and the summers the family spent on the Cornish coast.

In France…

Ernest Hemingway, 25, is regretting having snapped up the offer from the first publisher he’d heard from, Boni & Liveright. He’d been so thrilled to get their letter when he was skiing in Austria that he’d accepted the next day. His first collection of stories and poems, in our time, had been published last year by Three Mountains Press, a small company operating on Paris’ Left Bank. But Boni & Liveright was a major American publisher who wanted to bring it out as In Our Time and have first shot at his next work.


When he’d returned with his wife, Hadley, 33, to their Paris apartment there were wonderful letters waiting for him from Maxwell Perkins, 40, senior editor at rival publisher Scribner’s.

In addition, Ernest has just met one of Scribner’s top authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 28, who had recommended him to Perkins as long as a year ago. Fitzgerald was happy to share with Hemingway his inside info about the world of New York publishing, telling him that Scribner’s would be a much better choice than Boni & Liveright.

However, that first meeting with Fitzgerald in the Le Dingo bar hadn’t impressed Ernest much. Scott had been wearing Brooks Brothers and drinking champagne, but he kept praising the poems and stories of Hemingway’s that he had read, to the point where it was embarrassing. Then he asked Ernest whether he had slept with Hadley before they got married, turned white, and passed out. Ernest and his friends had rolled Scott into a taxi.

But on their second meeting, at Closerie des Lilas, Fitzgerald was fine. Intelligent. Witty. Interested in the Hemingways’ living conditions—in a rundown apartment without water or electricity above a sawmill on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Ernest decides it might be alright to take his new friend to the salon he frequents at the home of another American writer, Gertrude Stein, 51, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 48, on rue de Fleurus, near the Luxembourg Gardens. Gertrude hates drunks.

Scott had asked Ernest to come along on a trip to Lyon to recover a Renault he had had to leave at a garage there, and Hemingway is thinking of going. After all, Fitzgerald says he’ll cover all the expenses.

His latest novel, The Great Gatsby, published by Scribner’s just last month, is not doing as well as Scott and his wife Zelda, 24, had hoped. Selling out the first print run of almost 21,000 copies would cancel his debt to his publisher, but they are hoping for four times that.

great gatsby original cover

He has discovered that Perkins’ cable to him claiming that the early reviews are good had been a bit optimistic, and sales aren’t going great.

Scott is worried that he is reaching his peak already.

In America…

Perkins is writing to Fitzgerald,

‘It is too bad about Hemingway,’

regretting losing a promising novelist to a rival.

But he’s even more concerned about the mixed reviews for Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. The New York Times has called it

‘a long short story’;

the Herald Tribune,

‘an uncurbed melodrama’;

and the World,

‘a dud,’

in the headline no less. Even H L Mencken, 44, who can usually be relied on for some insight in the Chicago Tribune, has dismissed it as a

‘glorified anecdote.’

Chicago Tribune May 24 1925

And FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 43], the most widely read columnist in Manhattan, says it is just a

‘dull tayle’

about rich and famous drunks.

However, FPA is not known for fulsome praise. Back in February he had prepared the readers of his Conning Tower column for the launch of a new magazine, The New Yorker, by saying that

‘most of it seemed too frothy for my liking.’

He didn’t mention that he had written some of the froth to help out his friends who were starting the publication. For the past couple months he’s been going weekly into the magazine’s shabby office to choose the poetry. There have been some funny pieces by one of his own discoveries, Dorothy Parker, 31, but he doesn’t give it much hope of lasting.

The New Yorker cover may 9 1925

By now, sales of The New Yorker have gone from an initially respectable 15,000 to about half that. And the founder-editor, Harold Ross, 31, has had to cut the size to only 24 pages to save money.

But FPA can’t be bothered worrying about his friends’ losing business ventures. After finishing off a bad marriage earlier this year, he’s getting married!

Parker, Ross and all the others who gather for lunch at the midtown Algonquin Hotel daily, and for poker there weekly, have ventured out to Connecticut for the wedding.

Just yesterday, Ross’s chief investors decided to pull the plug on the magazine. Why throw good money after bad?

But, discussing their decision at the wedding, Ross and his main funder, Raoul Fleischmann, 39, start thinking that it may be too early to give up. Raoul says he’ll cough up enough to keep The New Yorker going through the summer, and then they can decide.

At the end of the day, FPA and his bride head back to the city, and he goes, as usual, to his Saturday night poker game and loses the money saved up for their honeymoon.

Donald Brace, 43, co-founder of Harcourt, Brace & Co., isn’t worried about funding, but he is anticipating reviews of two books he has just published:  Virginia Woolf’s essays, The Common Reader, and novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

Mrs. D Harcourt Brace cover

They have had success with Woolf before, but this is the first time that publication is simultaneous in the US and the UK.

The New York Times has raved about both Mrs. Dalloway and The Common Reader, comparing Woolf’s essay style to that of Lytton’s.

The Saturday Review of Literature calls the novel

‘coherent, lucid, and enthralling’

and wants her to write a piece for them about American fiction.

Virginia and Leonard will be pleased.