Irish-American lawyer John Quinn, 51, is sailing back to New York, via London.
On this European trip he has concentrated on just Paris—not Ireland, not England, which he visited in the past few years. And his focus has paid off.
Travel Guide, London-Paris
He sent his ambassador [and lover], Mrs. Jeanne Foster, 42, ahead to arrange meetings with painters and their dealers.
She did a magnificent job. As a result, he’s coming back with arrangements to buy a sculpture and three paintings by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, 39, as well as works by Romanian painter and sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, 45, and French painters Andre Derain, 41, and Andre de Segonzac, 37.
More important to Quinn, he has developed personal friendships with the artists and their dealers.
John Quinn and Constantin Brancusi
Quinn also visited the English-language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, owned by American ex-patriate Sylvia Beach, 34. He had advised her to move from her “shabby” location and Quinn approves of her new site on rue de l’Odeon. From here she plans to publish the monumental novel Ulysses by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 39. Quinn is supporting Joyce financially by buying up the manuscript as it is written. Support the artist as well as the art.
Now Quinn is going back to the law office he thinks of as a prison.
American novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44, and his wife Tennessee, 47, are heading back to his New York job, half-heartedly doing public relations for an independent movie company, via London.
His first trip to Europe has been what he’d dreamt of. After he visited Shakespeare and Company, Beach introduced him to Joyce and they had a few lunches together. Unfortunately, to get the conversation started the first time, Anderson asked Joyce what he thought of Ireland. Bad move.
Anderson told Beach he will spread the word among his American literary friends about her upcoming publication of Ulysses. Sherwood gave Sylvia a list of names and as many addresses as he could remember for her to use to solicit subscriptions. He even added personal notes to the prospectuses she is sending out.
Sherwood thinks of the job waiting for him in New York as a joke. He still has some advertising accounts to bring in income, but he’s not in a rush to go back to Chicago.
American writer Edmund Wilson, 26, is heading back to his New York job, managing editor of Vanity Fair, via London. He enjoyed his time in Paris these past few weeks but doesn’t think he really got a feel for the city.
Vanity Fair, August 1921
Wilson spent most of his time tracking down and trying to lure back his former lover from New York City, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, 29, living in Paris as Vanity Fair’s European editor. Wilson has pushed and published her work in the magazine. But it’s clear that Millay has moved on from Edmund. To some British newspaperman.
Last month Wilson wrote to one of the magazine’s other editors,
I found [Millay] in a very first-rate hotel on the Left Bank and better dressed, I suppose, than she has ever been before in her life. You were right in guessing that she was well cared for as she had never been before…[She] told me she wanted to settle down to a new life: She was tired of breaking hearts and spreading havoc.”
American novelist Sinclair Lewis, 36, is heading to Paris from London.
Last year his sixth novel, Main Street, was a bestseller. However, he lost out on the Pulitzer Prize to The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, 59. Apparently, Main Street, with its focus on the hypocrisy in a small Midwest town, didn’t fit the jury’s criteria of a novel “which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life.”
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
Lewis is bringing along another American writer whom he has just met in London, Harold Stearns, 30, whose book America and the Young Intellectual is coming out this year. Lewis plans to spend only a few days in Paris, but Stearns is going to stay on in Montparnasse, on the Left Bank.
Over on the Right Bank, American composer Virgil Thomson, 24, is settling into Paris and his temporary residence at the home of a French family on the rue de Provence.
At the beginning of the month, Virgil had bid a not-too-sad farewell to his fellow students in the Harvard Glee Club. The group has just completed a triumphant tour of France, with Virgil as accompanist. He was also the understudy for the conductor, and actually got a chance to step into the maestro’s shoes one night. Now they are all heading back to America.
Except Virgil. With his well-earned scholarship, he is going to stay here in Paris for a whole year.
Virgil has, of course, already been to Shakespeare and Company in rue de l’Odeon and signed up for Beach’s lending library. He is planning to move closer to the studio of Nadia Boulanger, 34, with whom he will be studying composition. His new residence at 20 rue de Berneis, a 10-minute walk from Boulanger, is in a less than desirable neighborhood. The street, and the building, are overwhelmed with what Virgil refers to as “daughters of joy.”
Nadia Boulanger’s studio, 36 rue Ballu
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.