Newlyweds Ernest, 22, and Hadley Hemingway, 29, have just returned to their cramped, gloomy, top floor walk-up apartment after a wonderful dinner with one of Ernest’s mentors, Sherwood Anderson, just turning 45.
1239 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois
Anderson represents the type of successful writer Ernie aspires to be. Two years ago Sherwood’s novel—really a collection of interwoven stories about one town, Winesburg, Ohio—was a big hit. Since then two short story collections have been big sellers as well. The most recent, The Triumph of the Egg: A Book of Impressions from American Life in Tales and Poems, includes 15 stories and seven photos of clay sculptures by Anderson’s wife, Tennessee Mitchell, 47, illustrating some of the characters.
Anderson is regularly published in The Dial literary magazine, where Hemingway regularly has his poems rejected.
Sherwood and Tennessee have just returned from their first trip to Europe and are filled with stories of the interesting people—mostly Americans—whom they became friends with there.
Sherwood and Tennessee Anderson
Ernest and Hadley are planning a trip to Europe also. But they want to move there permanently.
Ernie is making $200 a month as editor of the house organ for the Cooperative Commonwealth Society. But he is growing more suspicious of the organization every day. In addition to writing the Co-Op Notes, Personal Mentions and Insurance Notes sections in the newsletter, he’s been including coverage of the allegations of fraud brought against them.
Hadley, on the other hand, has a bit of a trust fund. And with the recent death of an uncle she never cared much for anyway, she will soon have an income of almost $300 a month.
Ernie knows he can count on the Toronto Star to continue to pay him for free-lance pieces, and he wants to show Hadley the places he was in Italy during the Great War. Including where he was injured. They have even bought some lira—at a great exchange rate—in preparation for their trip.
But Sherwood has a different idea. Forget Italy, he tells the young couple. France is equally inexpensive and the most interesting writers and artists of the time are flocking there.
Sherwood promises Ernest he will write letters of introduction for him so he can meet Anderson’s new ex-pat American friends on the Left Bank. Sylvia Beach, 34, from Princeton, New Jersey, runs a terrific English-language bookshop. Even more important, the modernist writer Gertrude Stein, 47, from San Francisco [via Pittsburgh]. Sherwood has been a big fan of her work for years and was thrilled to have long discussions with her about writing. He is contributing the preface to a major anthology of her pieces from the past decade, Geography and Plays, in hopes of getting her a wider American audience.
Back here in their depressing apartment, the Hemingways are re-thinking their plans. Anderson has convinced them.
Let’s go to Paris!
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.