“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, end of December, 1922, New York City, New York; London; and Paris

Rumors are flying around New York City that a group of con men are planning to print cheap, bootleg copies of the scandalous new novel Ulysses by Irish writer James Joyce, 40.

These literary pirates plan to take advantage of the fact that 400 copies of the banned book were destroyed when they arrived in this country from the publisher in Paris, American bookstore owner Sylvia Beach, 35. Booksellers here would love to get their hands on some copies, which are going for as much as $100 each on the black market. Some are even being smuggled over the border by an American book lover who commutes to work in Canada.

Ulysses by James Joyce, first edition

One of Beach’s American friends has written to her, lamenting,

It is too absurd that Ulysses cannot circulate over here. I feel a bitter resentment over my inability to read it.”

In his law offices, attorney John Quinn, 52, who has helped to fund the publication and promotion of Ulysses, knows that getting an injunction against these literary thieves would be too expensive. They’d pass the printing plates on to more thieves in a different state and he’d spend all his time getting injunctions, state after state.

Quinn does have a creative solution, however. If he were to alert his nemesis, John Sumner, 46, the head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice [NYSSV], that copies of the book that Sumner himself—and the court—have deemed obscene are indeed circulating, Sumner would put the time and effort into tracking down the gangs and stopping publication before the counterfeit copies hit the streets.

John Sumner

How ironic. Sumner was the guy Quinn fought in court to keep Ulysses legal.

The U. S. Customs authorities are trying to confiscate every copy of the novel that enters the country and then store them in the General Post Office Building. The local officials appeal to the Post Office Department in Washington, D. C., for instructions about what to do with the 400 copies of this 700-page book they are storing. The Feds respond that the book is obscene and all copies should be burned.

So they are.

New York General Post Office


Some copies of Ulysses do make it safely into the States, shipped from London where they had been taken apart and wrapped in newspapers. These are from the second edition, published this fall in Paris by the Egoist Press, owned by Joyce’s patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, 46.

Ulysses by James Joyce, second edition

When Harriet learned that at least 400 copies had been burned in New York, she simply ordered up 400 more.

Back in March, when the first major review of Ulysses appeared in The Observer—which considered the novel a work of genius, but concluded,

Yes. This is undoubtedly an obscene book.”

—a concerned citizen passed the clipping on to the Home Office, which contacted the undersecretary of state requesting the names and location of any bookstores selling Ulysses. Weaver also thinks they have sent a detective to follow her as she personally makes deliveries to each shop which has ordered copies to be sold under the counter only to special customers.

The Home Office also became aware of much more negative reviews of Ulysses, which led the undersecretary to call it unreadable, unquotable, and unreviewable.” He issued instructions that copies entering the country should be seized, but his order is only provisional, and he doesn’t have a copy himself to read. So the Home Office requests an official opinion from the Crown Protection Service (CPS),

In the meantime, a British customs officer, doing his duty, takes a package from a passenger who landed at Croydon Airport in London, and, recognizing it as the banned Ulysses, flips to page 704 to see why. He confiscates the book on orders from His Majesty’s Customs and Excise Office, but the passenger complains that it is a work of art, praised by many reviewers, and on sale in bookshops in London as well as Paris.

Croydon Airport

Customs and Excise keeps the book but sends it on to the Home Office for a ruling.

This copy of Ulysses makes its way through the bureaucracy and finally lands on the desk of Sir Archibald Bodkin, 60, Director of Public Prosecutions at the CPS and scourge of the suffragettes whom his officers had routinely arrested and abused.

Sir Archibald Bodkin

Bodkin only had to read the final chapter to issue his decision. Which he did two days before the end of 1922: 

I have not had the time nor, I may add, the inclination to read through this book. I have, however, read pages 690 to 732. I am entirely unable to appreciate how those pages are relevant to the rest of the book, or, indeed, what the book itself is about. I can discover no story, there is no introduction which might give a key to its purpose, and the pages above mentioned, written as they are as if composed by a more or less illiterate vulgar woman, form an entirely detached part of this production. In my opinion, there is…a great deal more than mere vulgarity or coarseness, there is a great deal of unmitigated filth and obscenity…It is filthy and filthy books are not allowed to be imported into this country.”

End of. 


In Paris, at the bookstore where it all began, Sylvia Beach is selling increasing numbers of Ulysses every day. Customers who come in asking for it leave with copies of all Joyce’s books.

By the end of the year, James Joyce is her best seller, beating out William Blake, Herman Melville, and, one of Sylvia’s favorites, Walt Whitman.

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, October 21, 1920, Jefferson Market Police Court, Greenwich Village, New York and rue de l’Assomption, 16 arrondissement, Paris, France

John Quinn, 50, attorney, art collector, and supporter of the arts and artists, doesn’t want to have to be here.

But The Little Review magazine needs him. Again.

Here in court for the preliminary hearing into their obscenity trial, Quinn has asked The Little Review’s founder and publisher, Margaret Anderson, 33, and her editor, Jane Heap, 37, to sit away from him.

Jefferson Market Courthouse by the Sixth Avenue Elevated

It’s bad enough that he has to be here, pro bono, when he should be in Washington DC preparing for the corporate case he is set to argue before the US Supreme Court. For a big fee.

Quinn only rushed over here because, after he stopped in his midtown law office following an important corporate meeting in the Bronx, the junior lawyer he had assigned to The Little Review case had called to say it would be best if Quinn were present in court. The magistrate, Judge Joseph E. Corrigan, 44, was not a fan of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice [NYSSV] which brought the complaint. But he is an old friend of Quinn’s from their involvement in Irish-American groups in the city.

So Quinn took the Sixth Avenue El down here to sit, in his three-piece suit with his gold watch chain spread across his vest, amidst the

immigrants, Negroes, Italians, and Lesbians,”

as he later describes them, waiting for Corrigan to finish privately reading the passage in question, the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses, by the genius—as far as Quinn is concerned—Irish novelist James Joyce, 38, published in the July-August issue of The Little Review.

Previous issues of the magazine with other Ulysses excerpts had been confiscated by the US Post Office. But this is the first time a warrant has been served for the arrest of Anderson, Heap and even bookstore owners who sold the magazine. Quinn managed to at least get charges against the book sellers dismissed and delay the preliminary hearing until now.

As Quinn understands it, some uptight conservative businessman had found a copy of this issue of Little Review with his teenage daughter’s magazines—and read it. He was appalled by Gerty MacDowell flashing her knickers, and wrote a nasty letter to the New York City District Attorney asking how this smut could be kept out of the hands of unsuspecting readers—the magazine had been mailed unsolicited to his daughter!

The DA knew that there is a way—the NYSSV, directed by John Sumner, 44, whose mission is to rid New York of filth.

John Sumner

Quinn had taken Sumner to lunch last week, hoping to get all the charges dismissed. He gave the NYSSV director a copy of a glowing review of Joyce’s work from the Dial magazine, and admitted that some of that language should not have been in a magazine. Quinn assured Sumner that he would stop Joyce from publishing his work-in-progress in the Little Review. Quinn has been urging Joyce to agree to private publication of a high-quality book version of Ulysses, and he’s close to getting a publisher, Ben Huebsch, 44, to agree.

Sumner doesn’t believe Quinn can get Joyce to withdraw the rights from the magazine. And he wants the smut eliminated.

Sumner’s deposition only has to say that the material is

obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, indecent and disgusting.”

The law says that to quote passages would just repeat the offense.

But Corrigan is not willing to take Sumner’s word for it. So he has halted today’s proceedings to retire to his chambers and read the relevant 16 pages of the issue himself.

When he comes back into court, he shoots a bit of a smile towards his friend, Quinn. He says that one passage

where the man went off in his pants [is definitely] smutty, filthy.”

Then Corrigan orders Anderson and Heap held for trial, postponed until February. Quinn asks that they be released to his custody—a technicality, as he intends to spend no more time with them than professionally required. His junior lawyer pays their $25 bail—each—and they are all free to go.

The Little Review is thrilled—Anderson defiantly tells the judge that this trial

would be the making of The Little Review.”

Quinn doesn’t give a damn about the magazine or the women. He wishes they would go back to the stockyards of Chicago where they started. He feels work like Joyce’s should be kept out of publications sent through the mail, where any teenager can see them. Quinn believes that literature belongs in books.

Now Quinn is looking forward to a week’s hiking trip in the Catskills. He’s bought new light woollen socks and rubber-soled shoes for the occasion.


At 5 rue l’Assomption, 16th arrondissement of Paris, James Joyce sits at the desk in his family’s cramped three-room apartment trying to finish the “Circe” section of his novel.

He’s been working on Ulysses for six years, and on this part for six months. Joyce described his current state to a friend as

working like a galley-slave, an ass, a brute.”

Joyce is aware that the sections he has sent to The Little Review, via their foreign editor, American poet living in London, Ezra Pound, about to turn 35, have been published. And confiscated. And in some cases burned.

He hasn’t heard much more about it. The magazine’s attorney, Quinn, says that Joyce would be better off pulling out of the publication and publishing an expensive privately printed book version. The legal controversy could even increase book sales! But Joyce doesn’t want to lose his Little Review audience.

And he has to finish writing the book first. Joyce just wants to keep working.

5 rue l’Assomption

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Paris and New York after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at the University of Pittsburgh.

My “Such Friends” presentations, The Founding of the Abbey Theatre and Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table are available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions. I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University early next year.

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

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July, 1920, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Greenwich Village, New York City, New York

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 28, checking her new copy of the July issue of Vanity Fair, thinks, That sure paid off.

At a Greenwich Village party back in April she had met Princeton grad Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 25. He was immediately entranced by her bobbed red hair and impromptu poetry recital. She wasn’t that interested—until she found out he was the new managing editor of Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair cover Jul 1920

Vanity Fair, July 1920

Shortly after, Edna had taken his virginity—well, he had offered it. Then she took off for Cape Cod for the summer, to stay in this borrowed cottage with her mother and sisters, without heat or electricity. She is happy banging out sonnets on her portable Corona typewriter.

Millay has had poems published before, in smaller magazines such as Ainslee’s and Current Opinion, and her anti-war play Aria da Capo has been produced by the Provincetown Players.

But thanks to her suitor Bunny, she now has a poem in Vanity Fair, “Dead Music—An Elegy,” accompanied by a plug for her play and a squib describing her as

one of the most distinctive personalities in modern American poetry.”

Thanks for that, Bunny.

Edna sees this as quite a step up, with her work nestled in between pieces by G. K. Chesterton, 46, Stephen Leacock, 50, and, oh, yes, John Peale Bishop, 28. He’s coming to visit soon for a few days. But she plans to have him leave just before Bunny arrives.


Back in Greenwich Village, Egmont Arens, 32, owner of the Washington Square Bookshop on West Eighth Street, is setting out the July Vanity Fair along with the July-August issue of The Little Review.

Founded and edited by Margaret Anderson, 33, and Jane Heap, 36, for the past six years The Little Review has been publishing the most cutting-edge writers in America and abroad. Their foreign editor, ex-patriate American poet Ezra Pound, 34, has introduced them to the latest developments in literature from Europe.

Thanks to Pound, for the past two years The Little Review has been publishing excerpts from the latest work in progress, Ulysses, by the Irish novelist James Joyce, 38.

However, the authorities don’t agree with Anderson and Heap’s enthusiasm for contemporary literature. Last year, and again this January, issues of the magazine carrying the “Cyclops” chapter of Ulysses were seized and burned by the US Post Office.

Since then, however, they have been left alone. March issue, no problem. April issue, no problem. Even the May-June issue, with the first two parts of Joyce’s “Nausicaa” episode, had been published, sold and mailed with no interference.

Little Review 3 issues with Nausicaa

Three issues of The Little Review containing the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses

This July-August issue contains the third part of “Nausicaa.” Pound admits that, before sending the manuscript on to The Little Review,

I did myself dry [Stephen] Bloom’s shirt,”

removing Joyce’s reference to a semen stain.

We’ll see if this issue will be left alone by the censors, thinks Arens. Fingers crossed.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

In the fall I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

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