“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, mid-October, 1922, The Criterion magazine, London; and The Dial magazine, New York City, New York

April is the cruelest month…”

Poet, publisher and bank clerk Thomas Stearns Eliot, 34, is proud of this first issue of the magazine he has started, The Criterion. His wife, Vivien, also 34, suggested the title. She just likes the sound of it.

Table of Contents, The Criterion, Vol. I, No. 1

The production value is good—small format, quality paper, clean typefaces. The content rises to the standard Eliot set for himself:  Longer pieces by top writers from different countries, paid at the rate of £10 for 5,000 words. And no illustrations. He didn’t want to junk each issue up the way The Dial magazine in the States does, with reproductions of Chagalls and Brancusis spread throughout.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust…”

Eliot’s one disappointment is that he didn’t get any work from French writer Marcel Proust, 51, for this first issue, despite interventions by their mutual friend, English novelist Sydney Schiff, 54. However, he is hopeful Proust will submit something in time for Issue No. 2.

Schiff is the first one to congratulate Eliot, who receives his letter while he is looking over the first six copies that have been delivered to him at home.

Marcel Proust

Praising Eliot’s accomplishment in producing The Criterion, Schiff also congratulates him on the crown jewel of this issue, Eliot’s own epic poem, “The Waste Land,” which he has been working on concurrently for the past year or more.

In producing the magazine, Eliot has had the support of Lady Rothermere, 48, who has financed the whole operation with her access to the fortune of her husband, owner of The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail. She has even offered Tom an annual £600 stipend and salary for the next three years, but Eliot is concerned that his bosses at Lloyds Bank won’t like the idea of him being on someone else’s payroll too.

Promotion for The Criterion

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many…”

In writing the poem, Eliot has had the support of many of his literary friends, but none more so than fellow American ex-pat, Ezra Pound, about to turn 37. They met up in Paris early this year and again in Verona at the beginning of summer to “put it through the sieve” as Eliot describes their editing process. The cuts Ezra made were invaluable and Eliot enjoyed collaborating; both agree that the final result is Eliot’s best work. Which is why the poem is dedicated to Ezra.

 Those are pearls that were his eyes…”

Now that “The Waste Land” and The Criterion have both been loosed upon the United Kingdom, the next step is for the poem to be published in the United States, in the November issue of The Dial, on the newsstands in a few days.

After this last year of writing, editing, publishing, negotiating, and taking care of his sick wife—while holding down a full-time job—Eliot is eagerly awaiting the world’s reactions to his efforts.


Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.

Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.

Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night…”


Pound, in his continuing efforts to get Eliot enough income so that he can afford to leave his bank job, has also been invaluable in getting The Dial publisher, Scofield Thayer, 32, to agree to publish “The Waste Land” at all.

At first Thayer offered Eliot $150, based on the magazine’s usual payment for poetry, with a little extra thrown in. Eliot wasn’t happy with this and prevailed upon another American who had helped with these things before—New York lawyer and patron of the arts, John Quinn, 52, who had negotiated the deal for the American publication of Eliot’s collection, Poems, a few years before.

By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…”

This time Quinn got Thayer of The Dial to agree with Horace Liveright, 37, of Boni and Liveright that “The Waste Land,” in America, would appear in the November issue of The Dial and then be published the following month in book form by Boni and Liveright, with an extended series of notes which Eliot has added.

Thayer doesn’t like the poem. Or Eliot, for that matter. But his managing editor, Gilbert Seldes, 29, is impressed with “The Waste Land” and, against Thayer’s wishes, has made it the main item in the November issue. Seldes is short on copy for the fall issues, so 450 lines of new Eliot is a godsend.

The Dial, November

To make sure “The Waste Land” publication has maximum impact, Seldes has enlisted the services of one of the top publicists in the city Bea Kaufman, 27, wife of playwright George S Kaufman, 32. Seldes enticed her with an invitation for a free meal: 

I want to talk about publicity for T. S. Eliot with you very shortly, and I think that these lofty business matters are always settled at lunch, paid for by the office. Let us go to Child’s some morning or afternoon.”

Bea Kaufman’s passport photo

In addition to arranging for reviews to appear in the New York Tribune and the New Republic, and writing one himself for The Nation, Seldes also sent an early copy of “The Waste Land” to Vanity Fair managing editor Edmund Wilson, 27, asking him to write a review for the December issue of The Dial. Wilson read the poem over and over, sitting on the top deck of a Fifth Avenue bus. He feels Eliot’s words speak to him as a frustrated writer, living in a crappy apartment that smells like damp cats.

As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire…”

No other American magazine or book publisher has been actively involved in bidding for “The Waste Land,” but a strong last-minute effort from Quinn was what got Thayer and Liveright to agree to the schedule. Eliot is receiving only $150 from The Dial, but they have also agreed to award him their $2,000 Dial prize this year. (Shhhh—that won’t be announced until the December issue.)

As a reward for his pro bono work. Eliot is sending Quinn the original manuscript of “The Waste Land” to add to his collection of authors’ manuscripts.

 On Margate Sands.

  I can connect

 Nothing with nothing…”

Thayer still isn’t happy about the poem itself, or its first place position in his magazine. He’d still rather be publishing something from an established novelist like Edith Wharton, 60.

All there is to do now is wait to see what the reviewers and the reading public think.

Shantih  shantih shantih.”

T. S. Eliot at work

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, May 18-19, 1922, Hotel Majestic, Avenue Kleber; and 44 rue de l’Amiral-Hamelin, Paris


A Teleplay

SFX:  Renard by Stravinsky

Long shot of the Paris Opera House. The camera moves in to focus on the poster for tonight’s performance: 

Then a tight shot of the wording:


Première mondiale! Musique et livret d’Igor Stravinsky  Chorégraphie de Bronislava Nijinsky

Interprété par Les Ballets Russes, sous la direction de Serge Diaghilev

Réalisé par Ernest Ansermet  Avec des décors conçus par Pablo Picasso

The camera pulls back and takes us through the streets of the Right Bank to the entrance of the Hotel Majestic on Avenue Kleber.

We follow the camera inside and up the stairs to a private room. Stravinsky’s music is drowned out by the sounds of about 35 or 40 partygoers, formally dressed, chatting and laughing. Waiters are getting ready to serve dinner.

Speaking in front of the room is Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev, 50.

DIAGHILEV:  Thank you to our hosts for the evening, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Schiff, who have brought together tonight the four living artists Mr. Schiff most admires [gesturing to each]:  Monsieur Picasso, Monsieur Stravinsky, Monsieur Joyce [looks around the room] Monsieur Joyce? No? And Monsieur Proust [looks around the room again] Monsieur Proust?!

As he is speaking, the camera moves around the table to give close-ups of some of the dinner guests:  Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, 40, with a Catalan sash tied around his head like a turban; his wife Olga, 30; French director Ernest Ansermet, 38; French composer Erik Satie, just turned 56; Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, 39; English patron Sydney Schiff, 53; his wife Violet, 48; and English art critic Clive Bell, 40.

DIAGHILEV:  I hope you all enjoy the dinner.

Waiters begin serving. Outside, bells chime midnight.

Camera moves around the room showing the partygoers enjoying the food and each other’s company.

Fade to the same scene showing most of the food eaten and waiters slowly clearing a few plates and starting to serve coffee.

The camera settles on the door to the room and in staggers Irish author James Joyce, 40, looking confused, poorly dressed and a bit drunk. Sydney Schiff motions for a waiter to put a chair next to him, and Joyce sits in it. He puts his head in his hands, and a waiter sets a glass of champagne in front of him.

Panning back to the door, we see Marcel Proust, 50, enter, dressed in evening clothes and wearing white gloves. A chair is placed between Sydney Schiff and Stravinsky; Proust sits there. A waiter brings him some food and drink.

PROUST, turning to Stravinsky:  Monsieur Stravinsky, doubtless you admire Beethoven?

STRAVINSKY, barely looking at him:  I detest Beethoven.

PROUST:  But, cher maitre, surely those late sonatas and quartets…

STRAVINSKY:  Worse than all the others.

Ansermet, sitting nearby, leans over to talk to both of them to avoid having this discussion become a fight.

Snoring is heard, and the camera moves to focus on Joyce, who has nodded off.

Hearing the snoring, a posh woman seated next to Clive Bell tugs on his sleeve and whispers in his ear. The two get up, put on their coats and leave together. Sydney Schiff gets up to see them out.

As soon as they leave, Joyce wakes up and Proust leans over to talk to him:

PROUST:  Ah, Monsieur Joyce, you know the Princess…

JOYCE:  No, Monsieur.

PROUST:  Ah. You know the Countess…

JOYCE:  No, Monsieur.

PROUST:  Then you know Madame…

JOYCE:  No, Monsieur.

The camera moves away but we hear the two men still chatting.

People start pushing back their chairs, gathering their coats, getting ready to leave.

Proust turns to Sydney and Violet Schiff, asking if they would like to come to his apartment.

The three leave together, with Joyce following closely behind.

Outside the hotel, a car is waiting and all four wedge themselves in.

The camera follows the car just a few blocks to 44 rue de l’Amiral-Hamelin.

Joyce starts to get out of the car after the Schiffs and Proust, but Proust gestures for him to stay in and signals to the driver to continue on. Proust heads for his building while Sydney gives the driver specific instructions and then turns with his wife to follow Proust inside.

Inside the apartment we see Proust and the Schiffs happily chatting and drinking champagne as the camera pulls back to reveal the sun coming up outside the window.


“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.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Next month I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.