“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, mid-September, 1920, New York City, New York

Alexander McKaig, 25, is enjoying a quiet evening in his New York City apartment, when in through the door bursts his friend and former Princeton classmate, F. Scott Fitzgerald, about to turn 24, and his new bride, Zelda, 20. Fighting. As always.

Apparently, they had just jumped on a train to Manhattan when their most recent squabble brought them to the Westport, Connecticut, train station, near their current rented home. Zelda had almost been run over by a train while crossing the Saugatuck River railroad bridge.

Since the Fitzgeralds moved to Westport early in the summer, McKaig’s impression is that they party and fight all the time. The most recent big blow out had been over Labor Day weekend.

Zelda Fitzgerald, back row; Scott Fitzgerald, front row; Alex McKaig, far right; with other partygoers in Westport, Connecticut

Why all the drama? Scott’s writing career appears to be going well. Based on the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise, earlier this year, his publisher, Scribner’s and Sons, brought out a collection of his short stories, Flappers and Philosophers, just last week.

Flapper and Philosophers cover

The Fitzgeralds are always complaining about having no money. But Alex knows that an advance on the Scribner’s royalties bought Zelda a new fur coat. And Fitzgerald has sold some of his stories to Hollywood movie studios for thousands of dollars.

What on earth are they always fighting about?!

After listening to Zelda yet again threaten to leave Scott for good, McKaig determines that he won’t attend their next upcoming drunken party in Westport.

“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 Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

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

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the University of Pittsburgh and 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, August 16, 1920, Westport, Connecticut

It’s been a wild summer, thank God.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, 20, is writing to a friend.

Her husband, F. Scott, 23, has been spending long hours working on his second novel, The Flight of the Rocket. He has described it to his publisher, Charles Scribner, II [“Old C. S.”], 65,

How [the hero] and his beautiful young wife are wrecked on the shoals of dissipation is told in the story….I hope [it] won’t disappoint the critics who liked my first one [This Side of Paradise].”

Zelda manages to drive into New York City fairly often, with and without her husband. And carry on a bit of an affair with Smart Set magazine co-editor, George Jean Nathan, 38, whose specialties are absinthe cocktails and married women.

Mencken and Nathan

Smart Set editors H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

Recently, Nathan had invited both Fitzgeralds to a midweek party at his West 44th Street apartment at the Royalton Hotel, so Scott could meet Nathan’s fellow editor, H. L. Mencken, 39. The young novelist was thrilled to get to know one of his literary heroes, who rarely shows up at these midtown Manhattan parties. Nathan had managed to procure three cases of bootleg gin for the occasion.

Zelda is describing what she remembers of the party to her friend,

I cut my tail on a broken bottle and can’t possibly sit on the three stitches that are in it now—The bottle was bath salts —I was boiled—The place was a tub somewhere.”

Zelda has no idea how she ended up in Nathan’s tub, but she has been known to take impromptu baths at parties before.

A few weeks ago, Scott had written to his agent,

I can’t seem to stay solvent—but I think if you can advance me $500…I’ll be able to survive the summer.”

“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.

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

This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at the 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.

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 29, 1920, 6 Pleasant Street, Montgomery, Alabama

This whole adventure started a few weeks ago, back in Westport, Connecticut, when newlywed Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, 19, was cranky over breakfast and mused that the people of her home state of Alabama were

very beautiful and pleasant and happy, while up in Connecticut all the people ate bacon and eggs and toast, which made them very cross and bored and miserable—especially if they happened to have been brought up on biscuits…and I wish I could have some peaches anyhow.”

She convinced her new husband, novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, that it was time for a road trip.

So they got in to the second-hand Marmon they had bought a few months ago, which Zelda had already “de-intestined” by running over a fire hydrant, and headed south, home to Montgomery.

Marmon c. 1918

Marmon, c. 1920

Now here they are. They arrived yesterday. After more than a week and 1,200 miles, after

  • Experiencing numerous breakdowns, including losing a tire, in the car they have christened “The Rolling Junk”;
  • Being robbed by highwaymen (almost);
  • Running out of gasoline in the middle of nowhere;
  • Getting a speeding ticket for going over 70 mph;
  • Overcoming all the barriers to driving into Richmond, Virginia, to spend Zelda’s 20th birthday touring the Confederate Museum in 94 degree weather;
  • Navigating unpaved roads, bad signage and guidebooks, nasty weather and nastier locals;
  • Being refused a room in a hotel because Zelda was wearing her custom-made white knickerbocker suit, matched to Scott’s, including being told by some white trash in North Carolina,
  • It’s a pity that a nice girl like you should be let to wear those clothes”;

  • Driving through every town in Alabama where Zelda could identify a different boyfriend she’d had; and
  • Arriving here at Zelda’s childhood home in Montgomery to find that her parents aren’t home.

Still haven’t had any peaches. Or biscuits.

Time to sell the Marmon. They’ll take the train back north.

The_Montgomery_Times_Thu__Jul_29__1920_

Montgomery Times’ “Society” column

“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.

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

This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War 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.

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, Summer, 1920, Windsor, Vermont; Westport, Connecticut; and New York City, New York

For the first time since he moved from the advertising department, at New York publisher Charles Scribner’s & Sons, up to the editorial department six years ago, Maxwell Perkins, 35, feels as though he is entitled to a vacation.

He is back in Windsor, Vermont, where he had spent most of his summers while growing up. It’s peaceful. And quiet. And brings back good memories.

Windsor VT Old So Church

The Old South Church in Windsor, Vermont

However, as usual, he worries about his writers. Particularly his new discovery F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, whose debut novel, This Side of Paradise, is earning Perkins this welcome rest.

Max decides he’d better send Scott his summer address, just in case he needs to be in touch:

Maxwell Perkins

Windsor, Vermont.”

Down south in Westport, Connecticut, Scott and his new bride, Zelda, about to turn 20, are spending most of their summer supporting the local bootlegger.

Working on short stories as well as his second novel, Scott flirts with Eugenia Bankhead, 19, sister of stage and screen actress Tallulah, 18, both old schoolmates of Zelda.

Zelda fights back by chatting up Smart Set co-editor George Jean Nathan, 37.

So many drunk drivers are racing up and down the road between parties in Westport and New York, the local police have given up trying to stop them.

Fitzs house in Westport

The Fitzgeralds’ rented house in Westport, Connecticut

Riding through midtown Manhattan one day in a taxi, Scott starts sobbing. He knows that he has gotten everything he ever wanted. And life will never be this good again.

“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.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins’ relationships with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

This 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 the 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.

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, May, 1920, 244 Compo Road South, Westport, Connecticut

Newlywed Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, 19, is bored.

She is sitting on the beach not far from their rented, colonial-style 150-plus-year old house, where her new husband, hot hit novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, is upstairs writing short stories. Always writing.

Of course, he gets about $900 for each one, like “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” in this month’s Saturday Evening Post, so at least that will pay some bills.

Their local bootlegger, Baldy Jack Rose, 43, keeps them in cheap whiskey. And their mysterious next store neighbour, Frederick Lewis, is a thirty-ish multimillionaire who pretty much keeps to himself. He doesn’t mind if Zelda shortcuts across his property to get to this beach, which makes the 20-minute walk a bit more interesting. And he gives great parties.

FE Lewis Fitz Wport neighb

Frederick E. Lewis

But Zelda is still bored. When Scott’s not working they drive their sports car around the countryside, or back into the city. Although, since she ran over a fire hydrant, Scott won’t let her behind the wheel anymore.

They finally had to hire a Japanese house boy for the cleaning and cooking because Zelda sure as heck couldn’t do any of that.

She thought that finally getting out of Montgomery, Alabama, away from her family, moving up north, getting married—she thought it would all be more exciting than this.

Now she spends most days hungover, sipping lemonade, sitting in a beach chair. Looking across the Sound to Long Island.

zelda-fitzgerald-at-compo-beach

Zelda Fitzgerald at Compo Beach, Connecticut

Thanks to Richard Webb at Gatsby in Connecticut for help in authenticating details of this posting.

“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.

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

In 2020 I am talking about writers’ salons in Ireland, England, France and America before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, early April, 1920, Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, New York City, New York

Well, this should be interesting, thinks free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 26.

Her friend and former co-worker at Vanity Fair, Robert Sherwood, just turned 24, now managing editor at Life magazine, has invited her and one of her many escorts, Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 24, for a special lunch at the Algonquin Hotel. He wants them all to meet mutual friends, first-time novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, and his new wife Zelda, 19.

algonquin hotel

The Algonquin Hotel

Instead of the Rose Room, where Parker and Sherwood regularly lunch with their fellow New York writers these days, today they are in the smaller Oak Room, just off the lobby, to avoid the crowds. All five are squeezed into a banquette, lined up against the wall. The food is identical to that in the main dining room. $1.65 for the Blue Plate Special—broiled chicken, cauliflower with hollandaise, beets with butter, fried potatoes, and the same free popovers.

They have all run into each other a few times before. But this is the first chance Parker has to size up Zelda, this Southern belle Scott has been talking about endlessly. Except when he’s talking about the fabulous sales of his first novel, This Side of Paradise.

Apparently, he hasn’t yet read the latest review by one of Parker’s other writer-friends, Heywood Broun, 31, in the New York Tribune, which called Fitzgerald’s writing:

complacent…pretentious…self-conscious…[and the main characters] male flappers.”

Their other lunch-buddy, FPA, 38, has made a game in his Tribune column of spotting typos throughout the novel.

Dottie tunes out Scott’s youthful enthusiasm to focus on his new bride. Not quite as frivolous as Parker expected. Zelda sports the latest, fashionable bobbed hair, chews gum, and speaks in a predictable southern drawl. Parker has seen that Kewpie-doll face many times before.

Zelda young

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

And Zelda is sizing up Mrs. Parker, professional writer. Long hair. Big hat. Condescending.

Boring, Zelda decides.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker, nee Rothschild

 

“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 2020 I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in the University of Pittsburgh Osher Lifelong Learning program.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with 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.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, Good Friday, April 2, 1920, New York City, New York

Zelda Sayre, 19, gets off the train in New York City, with her sister, Marjorie Brinson, 34, for the first time in her life. Waiting for them at Pennsylvania Station is one of their other married sisters, Rosalind Smith, 31, and Zelda’s fiancée, the hot new first-time novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23.

Scott and Zelda wedding dress maybe

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

Scott and Zelda met less than two years ago when he was stationed at Camp Sheridan, the Army base near her home in Montgomery, Alabama. They’ve been writing and dating ever since, but she had rejected his numerous proposals:  Until Charles Scribner’s Sons offered to publish Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise.

Scott had been told that sales of 5,000 copies for a first novel would be considered a success. Paradise sold 20,000 in its first week.

The three Sayre sisters have booked into the Biltmore Hotel to rest and get ready for tomorrow’s wedding at noon in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just blocks away from the groom’s publisher, Scribner’s.

The plans and guest list are simple. Bridal couple, best man, Rosalind as matron of honor. Zelda’s two sisters—Marjorie and Clothilde Palmer, 29—and their husbands who will come in from Tarrytown tomorrow. That’s it.

Zelda and Scott will honeymoon here at the Biltmore. The bride has a new dark blue suit and a bouquet of orchids. She’s confident that “Goofo,” as she calls her intended, will have made some arrangements for a luncheon. Or at least a cake…

BiltmoreHotelPostcard

Postcard for the Biltmore Hotel

“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 2020 I will be talking about literary salons in Ireland, England, France and America, before and after the Great War, in the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning program.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins relationships with 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.

“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, February, 1920, Montgomery, Alabama

Well. That was a scare.

Zelda Sayre, 19, had been late.

Not late to the dance. Late.

Her current boyfriend, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, 23, was back in New York City, finishing off his first novel to be published by Charles Scribner’s & Sons next month, and sending his short stories to magazines. Scott and Zelda were engaged. And then un-engaged.

He is still showering her with lots of presents.

zelda_aged_18 dancing

Zelda Sayre, dancing

When Zelda had written to tell him that she was late, Scott had sent her some pills to get rid of the unwanted baby.

Zelda threw them away. Only prostitutes have abortions. Not socially prominent daughters of Southern judges.

She wrote back to Scott—or “Goofo” as she calls him—to say that

God—or something”

would fix everything.

Must have been God.

She isn’t late anymore.

“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 2020 I will be talking about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others in both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning programs.

Manager as Muse, about Perkins and his writers, 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.

 

 

‘Such Friends’: 1921, Summer, Left Bank, Paris

In the past few weeks I have been posting vignettes about how each of the four writers’ salons came together. This is the beginning of Gertrude Stein and the Americans in Paris:

‘He is so anxious to know you, for he says you have influenced him ever so much and that you stand as such a great master of words,’

read the note that Sylvia Beach, 34. owner of the Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co., sent to Gertrude Stein, 47, about their fellow American, novelist Sherwood Anderson, 44. Gertrude and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, also 44, instantly decided that they would love to meet him.

Beach had found Anderson looking in the display window of her shop, and invited him in.  He had left his advertising job after having success with Winesburg, Ohio, his collection of stories focused on the residents of one town. Anderson had read some of Stein’s work in American publications and was impressed by her radical approach to writing.

27 rue de fleurus

27 rue de Fleurus

Anderson and his wife Tennessee, 47, arrived at 27 rue de Fleurus, anticipating being in the presence of greatness.  As Toklas remembered later in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein:

‘For some reason or other I was not present on this occasion, some domestic complication in all probability, at any rate when I did come home Gertrude Stein was moved and pleased as she has very rarely been. Gertrude Stein was in those days a little bitter, all her unpublished manuscripts, and no hope of publication or serious recognition. Sherwood Anderson came and quite simply and directly as is his way told her what he thought of her work and what it had meant to him in his development. He told it to her then and what was even rarer he told it in print immediately after. Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson have always been the best of friends but I do not believe even he realizes how much his visit meant to her.’

When the Andersons went back to America, they told others of the wonders of postwar Paris. They sent a young reporter, Ernest Hemingway, 22, and his new wife Hadley, 29, to Stein. A few years later, Hemingway brought successful novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 24, and his wife Zelda, 21, to Stein. And so the influx of American writers and their wives to 27 rue de Fleurus began:

‘The geniuses came and talked to Gertrude Stein and the wives sat with me. How they unroll, an endless vista thru the years…Hadley and Pauline Hemingway and Mrs. Sherwood Anderson, and Mrs. Bravig Imbs and the Mrs. Ford Maddox Ford and endless others, geniuses, near geniuses and might be geniuses, all having wives, and I have sat and talked with them all all the wives…’

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

This fall, I will be teaching a class in the first semester of the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute [OLLI], ‘Such Friends’:  The Literary 1920s in Dublin, London, Paris and New York.

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

To read about American writers, Manager as Muse explores Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe and is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

‘Such Friends’: May, 1925

In England…

Virginia Woolf, 43, is anticipating the reviews for her fourth novel, Mrs. Dalloway, which she and her husband Leonard, 44, have just published at their own Hogarth Press, with another cover by her sister, Vanessa Bell, 45.

mrs dalloway original cover

She has been working on it for the past three years, building on short stories she had written, and experimenting with stream of consciousness. The beginning of this year was spent on the rewriting, which, she had confided to her diary, was

‘the dullest part…most depressing & exacting.’

Leonard is enthusiastic. He feels it is Virginia’s best work. But he has to think that, doesn’t he?

Last month, the Woolfs had brought out a collection of her critical essays, The Common Reader, also with a Vanessa cover. Virginia had worried that it would receive

‘a dull chill depressing reception [and be] a complete failure.’

Actually, there have been good reviews in the Manchester Guardian and the Observer newspapers, and sales are beginning to pick up a bit.

The-Common-Reader- cover 1st ed

The ten-year-old Hogarth Press is doing quite well, having survived a succession of different assistants. They had published 16 titles the previous year and are on schedule for more this year. In addition to writing their most successful works, Virginia has been closely involved with the choice of manuscripts among those submitted by eager novelists and poets, as well as setting the type. She finds it calming.

Despite the stress of a new publication, physically Virginia is feeling quite well. She and Leonard have been busy in London with Hogarth, but also getting out and about with family and friends. Fellow writer Lytton Strachey, 45, had praised The Common Reader, but thinks that Mrs. Dalloway is just

‘a satire of a shallow woman.’

Virginia noted in her diary,

‘It’s odd that when…the others (several of them) say it is a masterpiece, I am not much exalted; when Lytton picks holes, I get back into my working fighting mood.’

Virginia’s literary competition with Lytton—he has always outsold her—is motivating her to get to work on her next major novel. She’s thinking of writing about her childhood, and the summers the family spent on the Cornish coast.

In France…

Ernest Hemingway, 25, is regretting having snapped up the offer from the first publisher he’d heard from, Boni & Liveright. He’d been so thrilled to get their letter when he was skiing in Austria that he’d accepted the next day. His first collection of stories and poems, in our time, had been published last year by Three Mountains Press, a small company operating on Paris’ Left Bank. But Boni & Liveright was a major American publisher who wanted to bring it out as In Our Time and have first shot at his next work.

In_our_time_Paris_edition_1924

When he’d returned with his wife, Hadley, 33, to their Paris apartment there were wonderful letters waiting for him from Maxwell Perkins, 40, senior editor at rival publisher Scribner’s.

In addition, Ernest has just met one of Scribner’s top authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 28, who had recommended him to Perkins as long as a year ago. Fitzgerald was happy to share with Hemingway his inside info about the world of New York publishing, telling him that Scribner’s would be a much better choice than Boni & Liveright.

However, that first meeting with Fitzgerald in the Le Dingo bar hadn’t impressed Ernest much. Scott had been wearing Brooks Brothers and drinking champagne, but he kept praising the poems and stories of Hemingway’s that he had read, to the point where it was embarrassing. Then he asked Ernest whether he had slept with Hadley before they got married, turned white, and passed out. Ernest and his friends had rolled Scott into a taxi.

But on their second meeting, at Closerie des Lilas, Fitzgerald was fine. Intelligent. Witty. Interested in the Hemingways’ living conditions—in a rundown apartment without water or electricity above a sawmill on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Ernest decides it might be alright to take his new friend to the salon he frequents at the home of another American writer, Gertrude Stein, 51, and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, 48, on rue de Fleurus, near the Luxembourg Gardens. Gertrude hates drunks.

Scott had asked Ernest to come along on a trip to Lyon to recover a Renault he had had to leave at a garage there, and Hemingway is thinking of going. After all, Fitzgerald says he’ll cover all the expenses.

His latest novel, The Great Gatsby, published by Scribner’s just last month, is not doing as well as Scott and his wife Zelda, 24, had hoped. Selling out the first print run of almost 21,000 copies would cancel his debt to his publisher, but they are hoping for four times that.

great gatsby original cover

He has discovered that Perkins’ cable to him claiming that the early reviews are good had been a bit optimistic, and sales aren’t going great.

Scott is worried that he is reaching his peak already.

In America…

Perkins is writing to Fitzgerald,

‘It is too bad about Hemingway,’

regretting losing a promising novelist to a rival.

But he’s even more concerned about the mixed reviews for Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. The New York Times has called it

‘a long short story’;

the Herald Tribune,

‘an uncurbed melodrama’;

and the World,

‘a dud,’

in the headline no less. Even H L Mencken, 44, who can usually be relied on for some insight in the Chicago Tribune, has dismissed it as a

‘glorified anecdote.’

Chicago Tribune May 24 1925

And FPA [Franklin Pierce Adams, 43], the most widely read columnist in Manhattan, says it is just a

‘dull tayle’

about rich and famous drunks.

However, FPA is not known for fulsome praise. Back in February he had prepared the readers of his Conning Tower column for the launch of a new magazine, The New Yorker, by saying that

‘most of it seemed too frothy for my liking.’

He didn’t mention that he had written some of the froth to help out his friends who were starting the publication. For the past couple months he’s been going weekly into the magazine’s shabby office to choose the poetry. There have been some funny pieces by one of his own discoveries, Dorothy Parker, 31, but he doesn’t give it much hope of lasting.

The New Yorker cover may 9 1925

By now, sales of The New Yorker have gone from an initially respectable 15,000 to about half that. And the founder-editor, Harold Ross, 31, has had to cut the size to only 24 pages to save money.

But FPA can’t be bothered worrying about his friends’ losing business ventures. After finishing off a bad marriage earlier this year, he’s getting married!

Parker, Ross and all the others who gather for lunch at the midtown Algonquin Hotel daily, and for poker there weekly, have ventured out to Connecticut for the wedding.

Just yesterday, Ross’s chief investors decided to pull the plug on the magazine. Why throw good money after bad?

But, discussing their decision at the wedding, Ross and his main funder, Raoul Fleischmann, 39, start thinking that it may be too early to give up. Raoul says he’ll cough up enough to keep The New Yorker going through the summer, and then they can decide.

At the end of the day, FPA and his bride head back to the city, and he goes, as usual, to his Saturday night poker game and loses the money saved up for their honeymoon.

Donald Brace, 43, co-founder of Harcourt, Brace & Co., isn’t worried about funding, but he is anticipating reviews of two books he has just published:  Virginia Woolf’s essays, The Common Reader, and novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

Mrs. D Harcourt Brace cover

They have had success with Woolf before, but this is the first time that publication is simultaneous in the US and the UK.

The New York Times has raved about both Mrs. Dalloway and The Common Reader, comparing Woolf’s essay style to that of Lytton’s.

The Saturday Review of Literature calls the novel

‘coherent, lucid, and enthralling’

and wants her to write a piece for them about American fiction.

Virginia and Leonard will be pleased.