“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, June 19, 1922, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London

The party seems to be going well.

Art critic Clive Bell, 40, is hosting the dinner party following this evening’s meeting of The Memoir Club.

Gordon Square

The Club was started a couple of years ago by about a dozen friends, family and lovers who live in and around the Bloomsbury section of London. Kept totally private, the main purpose of the organization is to get its members thinking about writing their own autobiographies. And because those who read out papers at the get-togethers are bound by the rules to be as candid as possible, The Memoir Club provides delightful entertainment as well.

Tonight’s presenters include Lytton Strachey, 42, whose biography of Queen Victoria was a big hit last year, and novelist Edward Morgan Forster, 43, recently returned from another trip to India.

Forster is in particularly good form tonight. By happy accident he has become the main topic of conversation in the letters page of the London Times.

At the beginning of the month, the Times’ review of Da Silva’s Widow and Other Stories by “Lucas Malet”—in reality Mary St. Leger Kinsley, 70—compared the book to Forster’s 1911 collection of six short stories, The Celestial Omnibus. Truth be told, Forster’s hadn’t sold well.

“Lucas Malet”

But the mention in the Times set off a volley of letters of praise for Forster’s writing, almost every day for two weeks, headlined “Mr. E. M. Forster’s Books.” This culminated in a letter from Kingsley herself who claimed she had never heard of him.

Well. She sure has heard of him now. The publisher of Celestial Omnibus wrote in offering a free copy of Forster’s book to anyone who made the same claim. A previous publisher got in touch, inquiring if Morgan was working on another novel. And sales soared.

The Celestial Omnibus

Reveling in his newfound fame, Morgan is feeling confident sharing pieces of his memoir and chatting with his Bloomsbury friends.

At the dinner, most of the discussion however is about a new long poem by another friend of theirs, the American ex-patriate Thomas Stearns Eliot, 33, which he calls The Waste Land. Eliot has been reading it out to friends over the past few months, and writer Mary Hutchinson, 33, Clive’s current mistress, calls it “Tom’s autobiography—a melancholy one.”

Mary Hutchinson and Clive Bell

Clive’s sister-in-law, novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, agrees with Mary’s opinion of the poem, but Virginia has been jealous of Hutchinson in the past. Tonight Mary is being quite kind. Virginia records in her diary later that Mary “crossed the room & purred in my ear.”

“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.

This month I am talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Carnegie-Mellon University.

In the fall, I will be talking about the centenary of The Waste Land in the Osher programs at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.

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”:  Five years ago, June, 2017, London

We interrupt the usual chronicle of what was happening 100 years ago to commemorate “Dalloway Day.”

Yes. Not “Bloomsday” which celebrates tomorrow, June 16th as the day on which James Joyce set his novel Ulysses [1922]. Virginia Woolf wasn’t specific about the date on which the events of Mrs. Dalloway [1925] take place beyond referring to it as a Wednesday in mid-June.

Below is a blog I wrote about the Dalloway Day events in London that I attended in 2017, when we were living in Birmingham UK. If you are interested in the celebrations being held this year, click here.

“Such Friends”: Dalloway Day, Blogging Woolf, and me

I said I would buy the lunch myself.

As I recommend to all my visiting American friends, when in the UK, time your train trip so you can take along some lunch from M&S Simply Food, ubiquitous in train stations here. My preference is carrot sticks with reduced fat humous and salmon pasta salad. Yum.

So I stocked up and took off for London a few Saturdays ago to take part in my first “Dalloway Day,” commemorating the day on which Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, is set. The Irish all over the world have been celebrating “Bloomsday” based on James Joyce’s Ulysses for over 50 years. Now it’s Virginia’s turn.

Original cover of Mrs. Dalloway, designed by Vanessa Bell

This year, the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is sponsoring this day, which includes a walk through some of the novel’s settings, a discussion of the book, and a 1920s party at the Bloomsbury Waterstones. I signed up for the whole package.

On one of the hottest days of the year, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Euston station, and then the Underground to the appointed meeting place, outside the Regent’s Park Tube.

Waiting for the Underground lift, literally a breath of fresh air came wafting through. The woman next to me, about my age, said,

Oh! That feels great. It’s so hot.”

I nodded in agreement.

Watching her walk up the stairs in front of me, I realized she was wearing a blue flower print dress and lovely straw hat. Aha. Another Dalloway Day participant, I surmised.

As we reached the street at the top, we both laughed. Standing just a few feet away was a gaggle of Dalloway Day fans. About 20 women “of a certain age” in flowered dresses or skirts, straw hats—they all looked just like me! No trouble finding this group.

The walk was led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who obviously was a lot more familiar with the book and Virginia than I am, having read it years ago as part of my research. I actually have much more vivid memories of the Vanessa Redgrave film, which I’ve used in my presentations.

Jean was dressed in the full Dalloway, including a vintage dress and hat, complemented by darling low-heeled black shoes with straps. Very 1920s. She’d obviously done this many times before.

Jean pointed out that there is debate as to when Dalloway Day actually is. Whereas Joyce clearly set Ulysses on 16th June, 1904, the day of his first date with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle, Woolf‘s novel says “mid-June.” However, by lining up events in the book with cricket games and the Ascot races, most scholars have settled on the third Wednesday in June. But—this year, it’s Saturday, 17th June. So more of us can come.

The unusually warm weather—it’s actually been hot; Miami hot, not just England hot—didn’t slow us down a bit. After a stop in Regent’s Park, Jeanne walked us over to Fitzroy Square, where Virginia lived from 1907 until 1911 with her brother Adrian. Their sister Vanessa had married art critic Clive Bell and kicked the siblings out when the newlyweds took over the Gordon Square house, where we headed next.

My own Bloomsbury walk actually takes the reverse route, starting in Gordon Square and then over to Fitzroy Square.

Your host leading a walk in Fitzroy Square where Virginia lived.

At Waterstone’s we sat in a circle, sipping refreshing flavoured ice water. Jean and Maggie Humm of the Woolf Society led us through an interesting discussion of the book. My research was on the relationships among the creative people in the Bloomsbury group, but wasn’t focused on their works—books, paintings, etc. This discussion brought new insights about the connections for me to incorporate into my future presentations.

And I learned that there is a website that maps all the walks of the characters in the book—Clarissa, Peter, Septimus and Rezia—showing how they interconnect.

For the 1920s party, I was planning to switch to Dorothy Parker mode, and so had tucked my red feather boa into my travel bag. But not many others were quite so dedicated to the flapper look, so I decided to stay in Bloomsbury garb.

*****

Just this past week, I had another tax-deductible reason to go to London. Paula Maggio, better known to many of you as “Blogging Woolf,” was visiting from the States to attend the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. We made plans to meet up and she wanted to try the Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. We had a fabulous lunch of pasta and prosecco, treated ourselves to dessert, and took a peek at the 1920s-style Bloomsbury Club downstairs.

Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel, photo by Paula Maggio

Paula had also heard about a life-size statue of Virginia at Kings College, where Woolf had studied classics in her early days. A bit of Googling and walking led us to the Woolf Building. A sign said it was locked due to increased security, but when the guard saw our noses pressed against the glass, he let us in.

There she was, encased behind plexiglass, big as life, holding a copy of A Room of One’s Own, in a wardrobe that was, as Paula said, “a closet of her own.”

Surrounded by large quotes from Virginia’s works, and photos of her, it makes a fitting entrance for the College’s School of English.

Virginia Woolf statue, Kings College, photo by Paula Maggio

I would definitely add both of these places—Dalloway Terrace and the Kings College statue—to my Bloomsbury walk.

Heading back towards Euston station, Paula and I stopped by Woburn Walk, where the Irish poet William Butler Yeats lived at the same time that Virginia and her siblings were moving into Gordon Square, just a few blocks away.

These intersections of time, place and characters are what interest me most. I can picture an aerial view of north London in 1907, as the Irish poet walks past the Stephens sisters, on their way over to enjoy a stroll through Regent’s Park.

The usual blog series that appears here, “Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago…, is the basis for the book 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.

This month I am talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after The Great War at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Carnegie-Mellon University.

In the fall I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in the Osher programs at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.

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, April through May, 1922, Hogarth House, Richmond; Tidmarsh, Berkshire; and Garsington, Oxfordshire

April.  Novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, writes to her friend, Lady Ottoline Morrell, 48, to arrange a visit to the Morrell’s country home, Garsington. Virginia suggests the last weekend in May, writing,

It’s such an age since I was at Garsington, and it never seems to me a house on the ground like other houses, but a caravan, a floating palace.”

Garsington

April.  Ottoline writes to their mutual friend, novelist Edward Morgan Forster, 43, just back from India, inviting him to Garsington for the last weekend in May, telling him that Virginia as well as American ex-pat poet Thomas Stearns Eliot, 33, are invited for that weekend also.

Mid-May.  Forster responds to Ottoline’s invitation, saying that he can’t come that weekend because he will be visiting their mutual friend, writer Lytton Strachey, 42, in Tidmarsh, Berkshire, where Lytton is renting a house owned by economist John Maynard Keynes, 38. Forster apologizes to Ottoline, explaining,

My future is as an uncharted sea, except where it is crossed by Lytton’s system of soundings.”

(Morgan has been reading a lot of Proust lately.)

Mid-May.  Virginia writes to Ottoline canceling her Garsington visit for the last weekend in May. She’s had three teeth pulled and can’t shake off the flu. Maybe late June or early July?

Saturday, May 27. Forster is enjoying his weekend in Tidmarsh, chatting with Lytton and others. The surprise guests are Virginia and her husband Leonard, 41. Weren’t they supposed to be at Garsington this weekend?

Ottoline sends a wire to Morgan and Lytton imploring them both to come to her garden party, about an hour away, which will go on all day. She wants them to visit with Tom Eliot. Carrying the Woolfs’ secret with them, Morgan and Lytton set off.

E. M. Forster at Garsington

At Garsington, the party is in full swing. Everyone is swimming in the pond and Ottoline is holding court, dressed in a picture hat and bright yellow satin top.

Forster always enjoys the gossip at these get-togethers but feels that a lot of the chatter when he’s not in the room is about him.

Ottoline Morrell, standing, with her guests at Garsington

“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.

In June 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, May 20-21, 1922, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury; and Hogarth House, Richmond, London

In the Bloomsbury section of London, economist John Maynard Keynes, 39, is writing to his friend, painter Vanessa Bell, 42, about the living arrangements in Gordon Square for his current partner, Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, 30, and his former lover [and Vanessa’s current partner] painter Duncan Grant, 37.

46 Gordon Square, Londres, Royaume-Uni

No. 46 Gordon Square

If [Lydia] lived in 41, [Duncan] and I in 46, you and family in 50, and we all had meals in 46 that might not be a bad arrangement…We all want both to have and not have husbands and wives.”

*****

The next day, in Richmond, southwest London, Vanessa’s sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, is writing to a friend describing a conversation she and her husband Leonard, 41, had recently:

Hogarth House

Leonard says we owe a great deal to [George Bernard] Shaw. I say that he only influenced the outer fringe of morality…Leonard says rot; I say damn. Then we go home. Leonard says I’m narrow. I say he’s stunted.”

Now that’s a marriage…

“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 the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute 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 6, 1922, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

Facing serious dental work, including three extractions, and her inability to fight off this influenza that has had her in and out of bed for the past few months, the spring of novelist Virginia Woolf’s 40th year is not going well.

Today, she and her husband Leonard, 41, were able to go for a walk. Hoorah! But then her temperature went up over 101 degrees, and they had to call the doctor.

The one bright spot is that, confined to bed, again, she now has time to delve back into the writing of Marcel Proust, 50.

Swann’s Way

She’d been introduced to his work during the Great War by her Bloomsbury friend, art critic Roger Fry, 55, whom she’s writing to today. She tells Roger that, although she has the

most violent cold in the whole parish,…Proust’s fat volume comes in very handy…to sink myself in it all day…Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures—theres [sic] something sexual in it—that I feel I can write like that, and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me:  It becomes an obsession.”

At the beginning of the year she had first taken up Swann’s Way, and written to her fellow novelist E. M. Forster, 43, then in India,

Everyone is reading Proust. I sit silent and hear their reports. It seems to be a tremendous experience, but I’m shivering on the brink, and waiting to be submerged with a horrid sort of notion that I shall go down and down and down and perhaps never come up again.”

Forster was so impressed by Virginia’s reaction that he bought a copy of Swann’s Way on board the ship back home to England. He has found that Proust’s technique of revealing character through inner thoughts is influencing the Indian novel he is finally getting around to finishing.

Reading Proust is also helping Woolf with her work, a long short story, “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street.” And it is keeping her from what she feels she is supposed to be reading, that vile tome, Ulysses by James Joyce, also 40.

Virginia is thinking that she also needs to write to her friend Ottoline Morrell, 48, to cancel her planned visit to the Morrells’ country pile, Garsington, at the end of the month. June or July might be better. This flu is just not going away.

Garsington

“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.

In June 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, mid-April, 1922, Monk’s House, Rodmell, East Sussex, England

Novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, is sitting in a comfy chair in the Woolfs’ house in the country with a blue-bound book in her lap.

Virginia is s l o w l y cutting each page of the brand-new copy of Ulysses which she ordered from her London bookseller. £4. Not cheap.

James Joyce’s Ulysses

She knows she has to actually read the book, not just handle it. She did read the first eight chapters earlier this year, in magazine excerpts. And then re-read the first four.

Then put it down and told herself she would definitely finish it. Soon.

Her husband Leonard, 41, jumped right in and started reading. Ironically, the manuscript of Ulysses was submitted to them a few years ago, to be published by their own Hogarth Press. They declined. Too big a print job, they explained.

Virginia and Leonard Woolf

Virginia has written to her brother-in-law, art critic Clive Bell, also 40: 

Mr. Joyce…I have him on the table…Leonard is already 30 pages deep…I look, and sip, and shudder.”

After all, she’s been ill. Bad case of the flu. And, despite that, she has been working on a long short story—“Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street”—that she might send to their friend, American ex-pat Tom Eliot, 33, for his new magazine. If she has it done in a few weeks.

Eliot. He’s one of the ones who has been praising Joyce and his latest book. Sometimes Virginia thinks Eliot likes everyone else’s writing better than hers.

She’ll start reading it again if the rain keeps up.

“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.

In June 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, April, 1922, England, America, France, and Ireland

Comment continues to come in reacting to the new novel Ulysses, by Irishman James Joyce, 40, published two months ago by a small bookshop in Paris, Shakespeare and Company, owned by American ex-pat Sylvia Beach, 35.

SCANDAL OF JAMES JOYCE’S ULYSSES

After a rather boresome [sic] perusal of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in Paris for private subscribers at the rate of three guineas in francs, I can realize one reason at least for Puritan America’s Society for the Prevention of Vice, and can understand why the Yankee judges fined the publishers of The Little Review $100 for the publication of a very rancid chapter of the Joyce stuff, which appears in to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made a specialty of the literature of the latrine…Joyce is a writer of talent, but in Ulysses he has ruled out all the elementary decencies of life and dwells appreciatively on things that sniggering louts of schoolboys guffaw about.

Sporting Times

“In addition to this stupid glorification of mere filth, the book suffers from being written in the manner of a demented George Meredith. There are whole chapters of it without any punctuation or other guide to what the writer is really getting at. Two-thirds of it is incoherent, and the passages that are plainly written are devoid of wit, displaying only a coarse salacrity [sic] intended for humour…The main contents of the book are enough to make a Hottentot sick…[However] there are quite a number of the New York intelligentsia who declare that Joyce has written the best book in the world.”—”Aramis,” Sporting Times, England

[Joyce is] Rabelais after a nervous breakdown.”—Sheffield Daily Telegraph, England

[Ulysses] has nothing at all to do with Homer…The book itself in its blue paper cover looks at first glance like nothing so much as a telephone directory…It seems a pity that Mr. Joyce, who might be a universally admired writer, restricts the appeal of his work by so many Zolaesque expressions, which are, to say the least, disfiguring.”—“Diary of a Man About Town,” London Evening News

[Joyce is] an intensely serious man [with] the mind of an artist, abnormally sensitive to the secret of individuality of emotions and things…A genius of the very highest order, strictly comparable to Goethe or Dostoevsky…Ulysses is, fundamentally (though it is much else besides), an immense, a prodigious self-laceration, the tearing away from himself, by a half-demented man of genius, of inhibitions and limitations which have grown to be flesh of his flesh…Mr. Joyce has made the superhuman effort to empty the whole of his consciousness into it…[But he has become] the victim of his own anarchy….[Joyce] is the man with the bomb who would blow what remains of Europe into the sky…This transcendental buffoonery, this sudden uprush of the vis comica into a world where in the tragic incompatibility of the practical and the instinctive is embodied, is a very great achievement.”—“Mr. Joyce’s Ulysses,” John Middleton Murry, Nation and Athenaeum, England

The Nation and Athenaeum

[Joyce’s vision of human nature is] mean, hostile, and uncharitable,…a very astonishing phenomenon in letters. He is sometimes dazzlingly original. If he does not see life whole he sees it piercingly. His ingenuity is marvelous. He has wit. He has a prodigious humor. He is afraid of naught…It is more indecent, obscene, scatological, and licentious than the majority of professedly pornographic books…He says everything—everything…The code is smashed to bits…[The Nighttown episode has] the richest stuff, handled with a virtuosity to match the quality of the material…I have never read anything to surpass [Molly Bloom’s soliloquy], and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it…[Joyce] apparently thinks that there is something truly artistic and high minded in playing the lout to the innocent and defenseless reader…He has made novel reading into a fair imitation of penal servitude. Many persons could not continue reading Ulysses; they would be obliged, by mere shock, to drop it.”—“James Joyce’s Ulysses,” Arnold Bennett, The London Outlook, England

The London Outlook

Amused, stimulated, charmed, interested (through the first three chapters only to be) puzzled, bored, irritated, & disillusioned as by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples (by the end of chapter 6)…It was an illiterate, underbred book (by a) self-taught working man”—Virginia Woolf, in her diary, England

*****

[Ulysses is] a step toward making the modern world possible for art. [It gives] a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history…[Joyce has replaced narrative with] the mythical method…[It is] a book to which we are all indebted and from which none of us can escape”—T. S. Eliot, “Ulysses, Order and Myth,” The Dial, America

*****

[Molly Bloom’s soliloquy is a feat of] diabolic clairvoyance, black magic.”—Paris edition of New York Herald, France

Take this Irishman Joyce, a sort of Zola gone to seed. Someone recently sent me a copy of Ulysses. I was told I must read it, but how can 1 plow through such stuff? I read a little here and there, but, oh my God! How bored I got! Probably Joyce thinks that because he prints all the dirty little words he is a great novelist. You know, of course, he got his ideas from Dujardin?…Joyce, Joyce, why he’s nobody…from the Dublin docks:  no family, no breeding. Someone else once sent me his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a book entirely without style or distinction; why, I did the same thing, but much better in The Confessions. of a Young Man. Why attempt the same thing unless you can turn out a better book?…Ulysses is hopeless, it is absurd to imagine that any good end can be served by trying to record every single thought and sensation of any human being. That’s not art, that’s attempting to copy the London Directory….He lives here in Paris, I understand. How does he manage to make a living? His books don’t sell. Maybe he has money?”—Irish critic George Moore, in conversation in France

A welter of pornography (the rudest school-boy kind), and unformed and unimportant drivel.”—Edith Wharton, France

It bursted over us like an explosion in print, whose words and phrases fell upon us like a gift of tongues, like a less than holy Pentecostal experience”—Young American in France

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce in front of headlines at Shakespeare and Company

*****

I should think you would need something to restore your self-respect after this last inspection of the stinkpots…Everything dirty seems to have the same irresistible attraction for you that cow-dung has for flies.”—The author’s brother, Stanislaus Joyce, Ireland

I’ve always told him he should give up writing and take up singing.”—The author’s partner, Nora Barnacle, visiting her mother in Ireland

“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.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris just before and just after the Great War, at Carnegie-Mellon University’s Lifelong Learning program.

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, March 7, 1922, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

Virginia Woolf, 40, is watching her husband, Leonard, 41, walk their guest for today’s tea, fellow novelist Edward Morgan Forster, 43, to the bus stop. Forster is heading out to visit his favorite aunt in Putney, just a few miles away.

Hogarth House

Virginia is so pleased that Morgan has come back to England—just last week—after almost a year away in India. But he seems depressed. He’s back living with his Mum and cat in Weybridge, in an ugly old house far from a train station, and hasn’t published a novel in a dozen years.

They discussed their recent mutual discovery of the work of Marcel Proust, 50. Forster started reading him on the boat back home; Virginia has been reading the Frenchman while working on a short story, “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street.” Both admire the way he uses memory to define characters.

Two days ago the Woolfs hosted another writer-friend for tea, American ex-pat T. S. Eliot, 34. He too seems a bit distracted by his current situation, working all day in a bank and coming home to a wife who is ill. Virginia has always been intimidated by him. Forster she thinks of as a friend, someone whose opinions she values. Eliot she sees as a competitor.

E. M. Forster and T. S. Eliot

Tom told them about a long poem, about 40 pages and as yet untitled, that he’s working on. He says it is his best work and the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press has agreed to publication in the fall. He has also received funding to start a quarterly literary magazine, also untitled.

There was something about Eliot that Virginia thought she had noticed before. He wears a thin dusting of face powder. Sort of a purplish color. The gossip is that he wants to make himself look even more stressed than he is.

After two months of sickness herself, being bed-ridden and unable to write, Virginia is now feeling her energy returning. The doctor has allowed her to get out and walk—which is how she writes, working out the text in her head. And she can now receive guests such as Morgan and Tom.

She still doesn’t understand Eliot’s enthusiasm for the new novel by Irishman James Joyce, 40, Ulysses. Virginia and Leonard rejected it for their press a few years ago. Now a little bookstore in Paris has published it. The way Eliot talks about the novel, Virginia feels that Joyce has done what she is trying to do—maybe even better?

Virginia decides she needs to go back and read Ulysses again.

“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.

This June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after the Great War 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, February 14, 1922, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

About 10 days ago, novelist Virginia Woolf, just turned 40 and still recovering from a second bout of influenza, wrote in her diary,

I have taken it into my head that I shan’t live till seventy…Suppose, I said to myself the other day[,] this pain over my heart wrung me out like a dish cloth & left me dead?…[Last summer I had] two whole months rubbed out.”

Hogarth House

Now her husband, Leonard, 41, has moved her bed downstairs to the living room, which is less lonely for her and more convenient for both of them. She’s reading more—Moby Dick and a biography of Lord Salisbury—writing a little and receiving visitors. Including her brother-in-law, Clive Bell, 40, whom she describes as “all bottom and a little flaxen wig,”

Clive Bell by Roger Fry

But Virginia’s temperature has been elevated at consistently 99.5 degrees, and she has been feeling quite competitive with her friend, fellow novelist Katherine Mansfield, 33. The Saturday Westminster Gazette is serializing Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party” and a collection of her stories will soon be coming out as a book.

Today, Virginia writes in her diary,

K. M. [Mansfield] bursts upon the world in glory next week…I have to hold over [my novel] Jacob’s Room…til October; & I somehow fear that by that time it will appear to me sterile acrobatics…[I am feeling] all dissipated & invalid-ish…What a twelve months it has been for writing!—& I at the prime of life, with little creatures in my head which won’t exist if I don’t let them out!”

“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.

Our celebration of the belated 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgher Gertrude Stein will be this Thursday, February 17, at 7 pm, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. You can register for this free event, or sign up to watch it via Zoom, here

At the end of the month 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.

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, before January 25, 1922, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

Virginia Woolf is about to turn 40. And she’s not taking it well.

She is pleased to find out that her friend and fellow novelist, E. M. Forster, 43, is on his way back to England after spending almost a year in India. She writes to him,

I was stricken with the influenza, and here I am, a fortnight later, still in bed, though privileged to take a stroll in the sun for half an hour—after lunch…

Writing is still like heaving bricks over a wall;…I should like to growl to you about all this damned lying in bed and doing nothing, and getting up and writing half a page and going to bed again. I’ve wasted five whole years (I count) doing it; so you must call me 35—not 40—and expect rather less from me.”

Leading up to the big day, in her diary she writes,

[Life] consists of how many months? That’s what I begin to say to myself, as I near my 40th birthday…

The machinery for seeing friends is too primitive:  1 should be able to see them by telephone—ring up, & be in the same room…[But too many visitors leave her] in tatters…my mind vibrates uncomfortably…

Virginia Woolf’s diary

I have made up my mind that I’m not going to be popular, & so genuinely that I look upon disregard or abuse as part of my bargain…I’m to write what I like; & they’re to say what they like. My only interest as a writer lies, I begin to see, in some queer individuality; not in strength, or passion, or anything startling; but then I say to myself, is not ‘some queer individuality’ precisely the quality I respect?…

I feel time racing like a film at the Cinema. I try to stop it. I prod it with my pen. I try to pin it down.”

“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.

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

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

In late February I will be talking about the 100th Anniversary of the Publication of Ulysses 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 also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.