“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, late March, 1922, Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris; 31 Nassau Street, New York City, New York; and 311 Chatham Street, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

At the Shakespeare and Company bookstore on rue de l’Odeon, the American owner Sylvia Beach, 35, is sending out copies of the new novel Ulysses, by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 40, which she published last month.

Sylvia is able to fill orders from countries all over the world—except the United States.

Because excerpts from the novel, which appeared in The Little Review there a few years ago, were determined to be obscene by a New York state court, U. S. Customs officials are on alert.

Oh, she has plenty of orders. One of the largest—25 copies—is from the Washington Square Bookshop in Greenwich Village, where The Little Review was first confiscated.

Washington Square Bookshop stationery

Sylvia is determined. One of Joyce’s many benefactors, Irish-American attorney John Quinn, 52, who unsuccessfully argued the case for the Ulysses excerpts in court, has suggested smuggling copies in to some northern city from Canada. Sylvia asked one of the young American would-be novelists who frequent her store, Ernest Hemingway, 22, if he knew anyone back home in Chicago who could help. The next day he gave Sylvia contact details of a friend and Sylvia shot off a letter to him.

But that was in the beginning of February. She didn’t hear anything until last week when he sent a brief telegram: 



with a Canadian address.

Not very promising.

Sylvia is thinking of giving up on Hemingway’s friend and exploring one of Quinn’s contacts, a good friend of his, Mitchell Kennerley, 43, who has a successful Park Avenue auction house. Kennerley imports books and other items from the UK all the time. Quinn says Mitch is personal friends with the captain of a transatlantic liner who could bring Ulysses over from London, slowly, in batches of 25 or 30 copies per month.

That might be the best option.


In his law office, John Quinn is catching up on his correspondence. He is updating Sylvia Beach on the fate of Ulysses in New York. Copies have started to appear in bookshops here. One of his favorites, Drake’s on 40th Street, is selling her $12 non-deluxe copies for $20; Brentano’s for $35, even $50.

Brentano’s logo

How did they get a hold of the books?! Traveling Americans might have brought them back in their luggage. But Quinn advises Sylvia that the authorities will soon start confiscating any that they find. Some returning tourists have already had their copies destroyed at the Port of New York.

Quinn is willing to make an arrangement with Kennerley.

Beach would have to ship the books in large quantities from Paris to London. They would enter the U. S. as freight, so customs would probably overlook them; they are more intent these days on catching bootleggers. Even if the books were found, they would probably be returned to London rather than burned.

Kennerley would collect the cash from the American buyers, have the copies delivered by private carriers—thereby avoiding sending “obscene” material through the mail—and pass the profits on to Sylvia. Retaining a commission of 10% of the retail price.

Quinn emphasizes to her that Kennerley is willing to break the law and, if he were arrested,

There wouldn’t be a ghost of a shade of a shadow of a chance of acquitting Kennerly.”

In fact, Quinn tells her, hold on to the 14 copies he ordered for now, until he comes up with a definitive plan to receive them.


In Windsor, Ontario, Barnet Braverman, 34, is wondering why he hasn’t heard anything from that American woman in Paris who wants him to smuggle books across the border.

When her initial letter finally caught up to him a week or so ago—he had moved from Chicago to Toronto and is now packing to move to Detroit—he was intrigued.

Miss Beach said a mutual friend had recommended him and that she needs to get copies of James Joyce’s new novel, Ulysses, to Americans—particularly New York publishers like Knopf and Huebsch who are too yellow to publish it themselves.

Braverman really wants to have a part in sticking it to the publishing establishment. His new ad agency job here in Windsor means he will be taking a short boat ride from and to Detroit across Lake St. Clair every day as part of his commute.

The Detroit and Windsor Ferry

Barnet is thinking he should write Miss Beach a detailed letter so she knows how eager he is to help 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.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 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 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, early May, 1921, Left Bank, Paris

Everyone’s coming to Paris…

American ex-patriate writer Robert McAlmon, 26, and his new British wife, Bryher, 26, have moved to Paris after visiting her wealthy family in London for their honeymoon.


Bob is planning to use his wife’s inheritance, along with the allowance her family is giving him, to start a small publishing company, Contact Press, named after the Contact magazine he founded in New York late last year with a fellow poet.

When they first got to Paris, the McAlmons made a point of visiting the English-language bookstore, Shakespeare & Co. on the Left Bank, and signing up as members of the lending library. They are using the shop as an address and stopping by every day to pick up their mail.

There is a real buzz in the store. The owner, another American ex-pat, Sylvia Beach, 33, is working on a major project. She has offered to publish Ulysses, the latest work by Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, even though excerpts from it were recently ruled obscene in New York City when they appeared in The Little Review there.

Sylvia Beach at Shakespeare & Co.

McAlmon and Joyce have become good friends. In London, Bob had received a letter of introduction from Harriet Shaw Weaver, 44, one of his benefactors and owner of The Egoist Press, to meet the Irish novelist. He and Bryher have been supporting the Joyces with a $150 per month stipend, and McAlmon is helping to type parts of the—very messy—manuscript as Joyce writes it.

At the shop, everyone is pitching in to mail out a prospectus and order forms to potential subscribers to Ulysses, which is planned to come out in the fall. As orders come in, Beach records them in separate green record books for each country. The biggest single order—25 copies—has come from the Washington Square Bookshop in Greenwich Village, one of the original defendants in the obscenity case. Bryher is helping out by setting up a system of alphabetical pigeon holes for the incoming mail.

At night, McAlmon and Joyce, sometimes joined by French writer Valery Larbaud, 39, make the rounds of the clubs and dance halls. They particularly like Gipsy’s on the Boulevard St. Michel. McAlmon staggers from table to table getting drunken patrons to fill out order forms for the novel. He brings what he calls another “Hasty Bunch” of signed forms to the shop on his way home early in the morning, after having been thrown out of the last club along with his two comrades. Sylvia can barely make out the scrawly handwriting.

McAlmon is popular on the Left Bank for his charming personality, of course, but also because he can buy the drinks. Lots of drinks. He and Larbaud had to bring Joyce home one night in a wheelbarrow. Joyce’s partner and mother of his children, Nora Barnacle, 37, admonished him,

Jim, what is it all ye find to jabber about the nights you’re brought home drunk for me to look after? You’re dumb as an oyster now, so God help me.”

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume 1 covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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, 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.