“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, December 29, 1920, 38 West 59th Street, Central Park South, New York City, New York

Scribner’s Sons’ hit novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, has had a good year, his first as a successful writer.

His income from writing totals $18,850. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was both a financial and critical success, with sales at over 40,000 copies. His follow-up short story collection, Flappers and Philosophers, is also doing quite well.

And he married the woman of his dreams, Zelda Sayre, 20. This is as happy as he has been since he was 18.

Now that he has just about finished his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, Scott and Zelda are pleased to be out of Westport, Connecticut, where they spent the summer. They are back in Manhattan, in this brownstone near their favorite hotel, The Plaza. The Fitzgeralds have dinner sent over from there often. Other nights, they just dine on olive sandwiches and Bushmill’s. (Zelda isn’t much of a cook.)

Plaza Hotel interior

However, Scott’s bank has informed him that they can no longer lend him any money against the security of the stock he holds. He has $6,000 in bills piled up, and he will have to pay back his agent the $600 advance he got for a short story he can’t write. Scott feels he just can NOT do another flapper.

At the beginning of this month, Fitzgerald had written to ask his very understanding Scribner’s editor, Max Perkins, 36,

Can this nth advance be arranged?”

Now he is planning to write to Max again to see if he can get a loan as an advance on this second novel. Zelda wants a new squirrel coat.

Advertisement for coats with squirrel fur

Farther down Manhattan, in the Scribner’s offices, the president, Charles Scribner II, 66, is catching up on his correspondence with an old friend, Sir Shane Leslie, 35, Irish writer and diplomat, who first brought the unpublished Scott Fitzgerald to Scribner’s attention.

Earlier in the year he had written to Leslie: 

Your intro of…Fitzgerald proved to be an important one for us; This Side of Paradise has been our best seller this season and is still going strong.”

Today, Scribner writes to Leslie that he does not like the choice of title for Fitzgerald’s collection, Flappers and Philosophers, but he’s willing go with Perkins’ recommendation—the editor has usually been right about these things.

Scribner goes on to say that Fitzgerald,

is very fond of the good things of life and is disposed to enjoy it to the full while the going is good. Economy is not one of his virtues.”

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions. Early next year I will be talking about Perkins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

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

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