Missing Wilson in Paris : Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in Paris and Rome, May-June 1921

The Fitzgeralds’ stay in Europe didn’t make any significant impact in the columns of the world’s press, the few exceptions being a 500 word review of This Side of Paradise in the Manchester Guardian on May 27th and a gossip item in Paris edition of the New York Herald the week before, saying that the author and his wife had just arrived at the Saint James d’Albany Hotel on the Rue de Rivoli on May 18th. Following the Fitzgeralds to the Saint James d’Albany at the end of May was Crown Prince Hirohito of Japan and his diplomatic and military entourage. [1] The Prince had completed his tour of London and planned, like Scott, to continue south to Italy in July. Also like Scott, it was London that had made the deepest impression on the young prince, who was astonished by the freedom that the British Royal family enjoyed and the warm, informal way that they engaged with the public. The Saint James d’Albany Hotel, with its gorgeously ornate dining room, was a favourite with Gilded Age eccentrics like the ‘unsinkable Molly Brown’, the larger than life survivor of the RMS Titanic. It was also just a ten minute walk from the British Embassy at the Place de la Concorde. It was whilst staying at this hotel that Zelda, pregnant with Scottie at that time, would infuriate staff with her persistent attempts to keep the manually operated elevator doors tied open for instant and effortless access to other floors at any time of day. [2] Also arriving in France that week was American author Sherwood Anderson, whose self-probing series of stories for Joyce and Lawrence publisher, B.W. Huebsch, had won high praise from Scott and his friends. Stepping off the SS Rochambeau when it docked at Le Havre was Sherwood’s wife Tennessee, American newspaper publisher, Carter Harrison Jr and journalist Ernestine Evans, a close associate of Scott’s friend, Edmund Wilson who was on her way to Soviet Russia to observe the state of its famine crisis for the magazine, Asia. The New York Herald reported that she had checked in at the Grand Hotel Corneille on Paris’s Left Bank on or shortly before May 25th. After checking in at the Hotel Jacob, Anderson and his wife had wasted no time at all in paying a visit to Ulysses booklegger and underwriter, Sylvia Beach and the Shakespeare & Co bookshop, just a few minutes’ walk from their hotel on the bohemian Left Bank of the city. Whilst there, the Princeton-raised Beach would arrange for the pair to meet the book’s author, James Joyce (‘a handsome man with beautiful hands who lights up the room when he opens his mouth’) and Gertrude Stein.

On May 28th, a few days after Scott and Anderson’s arrival, the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune ran a feature on Beach’s bookstore: ‘Literary Adventurer: American Girl Conducts Novel Bookstore’. Described by the paper as one of the most interesting and successful literary ventures in Paris, the opening of the shop the previous year had been the courageous undertaking of Sylvia Beach, a swashbuckling 34 year old who had just returned from Serbia. Beach had been active in the Balkans since 1918 where she had been serving the American Red Cross. The organisation’s Balkan Commission had been in Belgrade as one of ninety voluntary units from around the world trying hard to avert a terrifying humanitarian disaster. In the first few years of the war a temporary HQ had been set-up at the Hotel Regina in Paris and it was here that her love of Europe was reinforced, a trip to Spain and Italy at the outset of war having whetted her appetite for further travel. Although a news item in her local New Jersey paper, the Trenton Evening Times says she was heading to Spain on health reasons, her passport application reveals that the passionately American Beach was heading out to Europe — France, Spain and Italy — scouting for material for a number of magazine articles. It wasn’t the beach sister’s first encounter with writing, the pair having already received thanks for providing valuable support to Charles G. Osgood Jr, Preceptor of English at Princeton University in his book on the poems of Edmund Spenser in 1915. According to Beach’s biographer Noel Riley Fitch, Sylvia had met with German-American publisher (and Henry Ford peace activist) Ben W. Huebsch in 1914 or 1915 to discuss a possible career in journalism. Huebsch, who would be among the first to publish works by Joyce and Sherwood Anderson, had been in Germany at the time that war was declared and had remained there for several weeks as Assistant Consul in Leipzig, where he had found himself issuing emergency passports to thousands of British and American citizens looking for an escape route out of the war. That Beach’s pastor father back in Princeton was a personal friend of President Wilson, would have made her an attractive tap for inside information on America’s war policies and her sharp, well balanced judgement would make her a very capable correspondent. She remained in Spain and Italy for two years before relocating to France.

Back in Paris in 1920, Beach’s plan, backed by Huebsch, had been to put French authors in touch with American authors in the rich and varied Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne. The shop would also operate as a lending library. Hardly a day would pass by without some meandering, shabby-shoed writer dropping by to browse its wonderfully illicit and overcrowded shelves. A sign outside, designed by Charles Winzer, showed the bald old Bard himself and on one of the corner shelves inside the shop was a tiny porcelain model of Shakespeare’s home in Startford. The rugs and hangings in soft vivid colours had been brought back with Beach from Serbia. In the Tribune article, Beach is described as the daughter of the minister of the first Presbyterian Church at Princeton — Woodrow Wilson’s old church. Her younger sister, Eleanor, was working in movies in Paris, whilst her elder sister, Mary was working as General Manager of the Red Cross Work in Florence. Letters written by Sylvia’s father from Princeton reveal that her mother Eleanor had arrived in Paris to visit her daughters at the end of March that year. [3]

Writing in his notebook on May 28, Anderson described how shortly after landing in Paris he and his wife had stood and absorbed the full, impossible history of the place: “The streets here are haunted by memories. To stand for an hour in the great open space facing the building of the Louvre is worth the trip across the Atlantic. We walk thro all these streets haunted by the ghosts of great artists of the past.” The city was like another world entirely, the French skies having a “special kind of pearly clearness”.  In a way that showed his instinctive, Emerson-like grasp of the transcendental, the author described how the clouds had erupted in the sky like beacons. Their vaporous, elongated shapes had the effect of luring you somewhere. Reflecting in diary on May 30th, Anderson shared an almost out of body experience: even amidst the roar of the city, staring out across the uninterrupted skies of Paris, made it seem like you were always on the point of floating away with them. The skies of Europe mapped out a route to better things.  Sherwood would also observe that the Americans who stayed here were like badly behaved children. There was a total lack of synchrony between these delinquents and their hosts. Time moved at a different pace. He couldn’t get over how every day at noon the shops in Paris would close for a couple of hours and everyone would make to a cafe to tip down one of those new Espresso coffees or a glass of wine. [4] Scott and Zelda were not quite so lyrical about it. The wine and the coffee was one thing, but they often boiled “with ancient indignation” towards the city’s fusty, old-fashioned natives. One afternoon they drove to the Bois de Boulogne, a sprawling idyllic woodland two and half times the size of Central Park. Here they would reimagine France as a “spoiled and vengeful child”, selfishly obstructing the progress of the world with its dense and oppressive antiquity. [5] The country was like a clock that had stopped ticking. It sat on the shelf offering only the dullest of sounds, its stiff little hands squeezing the life out of time, mechanically conserving history. Modernism for Scott was taking root in a mausoleum. The weak little oars pushed forward, and the current pulled you back.

A meeting for lunch with Edna St Vincent Millay — a friend of both Wilson and Beach — would leave the most polarised of impressions on the Left Bank poet. In an anonymous article on Scott for The Bookman the following year, Edmund Wilson would describe Millay’s feelings about the encounter. According to Edna, meeting Scott had been like meeting a “stupid old woman” who had been left the most magnificent and beautiful diamond. Everyone who met the woman would be surprised to find that such an ignorant old woman should “possess such a valuable thing.”  In translation it wasn’t quite so bad: Millay thought that Scott had an enormous talent that he wasted on all the wrong things. It was an opinion shared by Scott, who conceded in later years that whilst many Americans had lost much of their wealth in the crash of ‘29, he had lost everything he had wanted “in the boom” at the start of the decade. [6] For all his extravagance and seeming wealth, his diamond “as big as the Ritz” enjoyed a lousy exchange rate with the satisfaction he sought creatively. The picture painted by Millay was of a vulgar, bewildered genius, so overwhelmed by the suddenness and ferocity of his success that he couldn’t even guess at its value. It was the crudest and roughest of diamonds that this precocious and inelegant pretender couldn’t cut and couldn’t polish. Wilson conceded that Millay wasn’t getting the full picture of Scott by any means. Maybe she’d got him on a bad day. Nevertheless he believed there had been a “symbolic truth” in what Millay was saying: Scott had been given a stunning imagination but didn’t quite know what to do with it. He had an extraordinary gift for expression “without any ideas to express.” Like his most famous creation Jay Gatsby, Millay described Scott as a “rather child-like fellow, very much wrapped up in his dream of himself and his projection of it on paper.” [7]  There was something “gorgeous” about him, a raw and unbridled energy, but it was a promise that was built more from hope than from any clear, purposeful talent. The “sort of magic” that he possessed was an expensive and unsustainable trick. Nobody knew better than Scott how “terribly lucky” he had been. [8] In the words of Leslie (or even Milton or Shelley) he was probably just another study in sublime failure.

Scott, Wilson and Sherwood weren’t the only Americans making the pilgrimage to Paris that year. Hemingway, Djuana Barnes, Stephen Benét, John Wyeth, Gerald and Sara Murphy and Ezra Pound had all been pasty-faced newbies there too. The Irish novelist, James Joyce had arrived in July the previous year and his publishers, Beach’s Shakespeare & Company, had just begun mailing out copies of a subscription form for Ulysses. Perhaps sensing a sudden wave of anarchy and subversion breaking out among the advancing army of ex-pats, the Paris Police Prefecture had just introduced a dedicated team of detectives to monitor all foreigners, 6, 000 of whom were American. Previously scattered among several different departments, this new centralised bureau, housed at 9 Boulevard du Palais, would comprise one hundred officers whose task it was to focus on identifying and deporting any political agitators and subversives — and, one might well imagine, apprehending any seditious prose or verse falling from the shelves from Sylvia Beach’s shop. Civlisation was going to pieces. Shane Leslie’s summary of Joyce’s novel as ‘literary Bolshevism” was clearly being taken seriously. America had imposed its dramatic and uncompromising Emergency Restriction Bill to tackle the problem of a Bolshevik ‘fifth column’, whereas France had gone about their work with their customary grace and elegance; instead of throwing the devils out they simply boosted surveillance. Instead of restricting immigrants, they would deter them. When tourists arrived at hotels, they would now be obliged to fill out lengthy identification forms, whilst those intending to stay in the country would need to purchase identification cards. [9] The American diaspora would be formally crowned in July with the arrival of the new American ambassador, Myron T. Herrick, a well-adjusted capitalist who had occupied the post during the first few weeks of the war and earned something of a legendary status. At a special ceremony in his honour at the Hotel de Ville the previous year, Herrick had upscaled America’s commitment to post-war France. He didn’t just understand the needs of France, he understood its heart. [10]

If Scott and Zelda did manage to meet up with Father Hemmick, as Shane Leslie had suggested in his letter the previous autumn, it is not recorded. Hemmick, who Scott had known at prep school, was at this time busy in Paris helping to organise a supper dance on behalf of the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée. The club, located adjacent to the British and Japanese Embassies, had been founded in 1917 to mark America’s entry into the war. In the mid-1920s it would be used to host a Princeton alumni dinner given by its president John G. Hibben. Among those attending Father Hemmick’s supper dance in June 1921 were Marshall Foch and US Ambassador Wallace. In the immediate aftermath of the war, a whole new spirit of collaboration was taking shape. Clubs were being founded, trade was being brokered and deals were being made. The colossal losses of the war was now the glue that was bonding the old western nations together. A shared past was laying the foundations of a shared future. Just a few weeks earlier on Monday May 30th, Hemmick had pronounced the Benediction at the lavish military ceremony at Suresnes on Memorial Day — the day that 19 year-old African American shoeshine worker, Dick Rowland’s probably quite innocent encounter with an attractive white girl sparked the devastating Tulsa Race Riots back home. [11] For a man still smarting from the shame of not serving abroad, it was absolutely the wrong place to be. A country that was fit for heroes had little room for those who had never experienced battle. This was one party that Scott was probably quite happy to miss.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day in France that year was being organised as something special. The two day mini-event starting Sunday the 29th May would culminate in a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, a symbol of fraternity amongst the allies. A full itinerary of military and religious services had been arranged, the high-point being a slow, winding procession led by Ambassador Wallace and Major Henry T. Allen to lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On that day, The Garde Republican Band had opened with The Star Spangled Banner and British, American, Belgian and French troops all stood neatly at attention. Wallace had stepped forward and addressed the crowd: “I place this wreath upon the grave of the unknown soldier who rests here as the very type and symbol of heroic France. His body lies in the earth which bore him, but his spirit lingers near … this is not death, it is life supernal.” In one particularly reflective account, the New York Herald would describe how his countrymen would come to the tomb as they would to an altar where they may “imbibe the patriotism from a never failing source.” [12] Scott would draw on this reservoir of ‘supernal’ patriotism for both Gatsby (1925) and Tender is the Night (1934). In the earlier novel, Nick Carraway has arrived back from war wanting the world to be in uniform and “at a sort of moral attention forever.” [13] The romance of the war had provided young Americans with something they had been missing. But it wasn’t anything that was rooted in reality. It was rooted in fairy-tales, in dreams. When Dick and Rosemary visit the war cemetery in Tender is the Night, Dick believes that it been the mindless pursuit of romance — “a century of Middle Class love” — that had led to the outrageous scale of butchery on the Somme.  It was an addictive, heady cocktail of religion and class dynamics that had invented this kind of battle, wrote Scott. It was the product of “Lewis Carroll and Jules Verne and whoever wrote Undine, and country deacons bowling and marraines in Marseilles.”  [14] Towards the end of his life, Scott would write that his generation had been born into a period of “intense nationalism” where “Jingo was the lingo”. In words that shone a brilliant (green) light upon his famous ‘boats against the current’ metaphor, Scott would describe them as a generation that had inherited two worlds: “the one of hope to which he had been bred, and the one of disillusion which we had discovered early for ourselves.” It was that world that was now growing as remote as either France or Britain, “however close in time.” [15] In his study back at home was a rusted old German helmet and a bayonet. Those who saw the helmet remember that it had a small grim hole in the crown around which had dried a clump of caked gore that Scott let everyone think was human matter. [16] He later joked to his editor Max that he would present the manuscript for his new novel, Tender is the Night by visiting him in his office wearing the helmet. [17] If glory had eluded him through action, at least it could be his crown through words.

The fairy-tale of war was one that would come back to haunt Scott throughout his life. The “juvenile regrets” that Scott would refer to in The Crack Up would eventually rack-up into a recurring war dream in which the gallant Captain Fitzgerald, his regiment cut to rags, saves what is left of his command from the victorious Japanese. When he wakes he realises that he is only “one of the dark millions riding forward in black buses toward the unknown.” The greater “waste and horror” though was that which had amassed from “what he might have been and done.” The fate that had been due had eluded him back, and with it, his sureties of glory. His failure to serve overseas “had resolved into childish waking dreams of imaginary heroism.” All those hopes had been “lost, spent, gone, dissipated, unrecaptured”. [18] Scott had spent his youth dreaming of chivalrous battles waged on the spur of romance. But instead of courage and honour, he had found only greed, selfishness and corruption. For every great dream there was even greater disappointment. Not even the fantasy could sustain him now.

A White, Unbroken Glory

The irony of an ambitious young writer, feted as the ‘American Rupert Brooke’ arriving in Paris at this time wouldn’t have been lost on Scott. His fame and commercial value had hinged originally on being dead. Scott had drawn energy from Leslie’s pessimism. What had been his opening pitch to Scribners? “Though Scott Fitzgerald is still alive it has a literary value. Of course when he is killed it will also have a commercial value.” The death of Rupert Brooke had energized the recruitment drive in Britain. Few would have known that he died from sepsis from an infected mosquito bite. To Brits and many Americans, the idealistic young dreamer would become an emblem of tragic service — or, as Ambassador Wallace might have seen it, of ‘life supernal’. A breezy entry in Shane Leslie’s diary in September 1918 reads: “Stayed with Monsignor Fay and Scott Fitzgerald who is about to leave for France. Scott has become a romantic idealist. Thinks of taking the priesthood or meeting Rupert Brookes fate in the war.” Years later Scott would trace the onset of his debilitating insomnia to a mosquito bite. He never did explain whether the bite was his bite or the one that had elevated Brooke to his lasting, celestial status. Either way, he’d been infected. Scott knew this much: the grave of the Unknown Soldier possessed more mystery and more legend than any self-serving shrine put together by a famous living author. His arrival in France was being cruelly upstaged by someone who didn’t even have a name.

The man who had written the young Brooke’s obituary in The Times of London, was, ironically enough, Leslie’s cousin, Winston Churchill, the British Colonial Secretary that Scott and Zelda would meet during the first of their two week stays in London. Winston, then serving as First Lord of the Admiralty, had been keen to atone for an utterly disastrous landing in the Dardanelles. The obituary that Churchill provided was shaped by a genuine sense of grief for the loss of a genuine talent and the more cynical demands of politics. Brooke, who had been recruited into Churchill’s own Royal Naval Division, had written his most famous poem, The Soldier the Christmas before. The poem crystallised the sentiment of plucky British sacrifice so perfectly that it had been read on Easter Sunday at Saint Pauls just weeks before his death in Greece. Rather than repeat all that, Winston quoted some lines taken from another of Brooke’s poems, The Dead:

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter

And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,

      Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance

And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white

      Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,

A width, a shining peace, under the night.

This wasn’t a life wasted, Churchill fondly susurrated, but a life given. Winston, safe in London, philosophized that there was nothing of waste in what had been so “joyfully been laid down.” Brooke had given his voice to youth. That voice may have been “swiftly stilled”, he went on, but the echoes and the memory of that voice would remain and linger forever. [19] The death of Rupert Brooke on Saint George’s Day from a violent gastric episode, was poetically reimagined as the fulfilment of a heavenly plan for the allies. Brooke had not only become a symbol of national political importance, but a justification of every careless failure and every reckless loss suffered by the Churchill and the British Admiralty. He hadn’t died, he had martyred himself. For everyone between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, the death of Brooke had quite become quite literally a death to die for. Greatness was still greatness, even if it was granted posthumously.

At the beginning of America’s war, Scott had, probably with Leslie’s backing, ploughed all his creative energies into a book of verse, but by December 1917 he had abandoned this idea. Writing from Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Scott had told Leslie that he had completed some twenty poems but felt unable to continue in the prevailing “atmosphere” at the camp. These attempts — and Leslie’s offer of putting it before his publisher — were mentioned in the very first lines of the book’s original manuscript. The book’s hero, Amory Blaine, tells us he to write a “volume of poetry” and that “Theron Cary would take it to Scribners.” [20] According to a letter written to ‘Bunny’ Wilson some months earlier, the poetry that Scott had produced during this period had been written mostly under the “Masefield-Brooke influence”.

Several weeks later the author had changed his mind. Scott had neither the time or the patience to write more poems. He was now going to put down the experiences of what might be his short life in prose, a mixture of “fiction and autobiography.” What was real and what was art was becoming fabulously blurred. It was a study in autobiography with a peculiarly avant-garde, self-reflexive twist. Scott had found himself writing his first novel about a precocious undergraduate writing his first novel. What could be possibly be more modern than that? The young writer stood self-consciously at the threshold of a two-way infinity mirror that he would spend his early adult life trying to escape. A division at a quantum level had taken place. From now until his third novel, Scott would find himself reflecting back at the world what the world sought from his own super-polished self-idea. This had been nowhere more apparent than in the self-penned interview he had prepared for publicising his first novel: “The author of This Side of Paradise is sturdy, broad shouldered and just above medium height. He has blond hair with the suggestion of a wave and alert green eyes — the melange somewhat Nordic— and good-looking too, which was disconcerting as I had somehow expected a thin nose and spectacles.” Written in the third person, Scott was probably hoping that the lazy or overworked editors of national newspapers would skip the custom of having some staff journalist rework in the house style and publish it largely intact. As an exercise in controlling brand narrative it was way ahead of its time. Scott had concocted a concise, and overwhelmingly positive messaging framework that he could communicate through his own rose-tinted lens some wonderfully idealised version of himself. His idea of himself as celebrity author was taking shape. In one side of his pen was Scott, privately fretful and ferociously insecure, and on the other there was ‘F. Scott Fitzgerald’, spokesman for a generation. Scott was floating his talent as public shares. Any stock he had wasn’t private now but for everyone. The brash ‘Romantic Egotist’ was slowly reinventing himself as the glass of fashion, the mould of form. One journalist who would see right through this was Heywood Broun, who would share his response to Scott’s sheet in the New York Tribune within weeks of the book being published. The review, which included substantial quotes from the author’s self-penned press sheet, concluded with an assessment that wasn’t too wide of the truth: “Having heard Mr. Fitzgerald, we are not entirely minded to abandon our notion that he is a rather complacent, somewhat pretentious and altogether self-conscious young man.” [21]

The eventual title of his debut novel, This Side of Paradise, would, in actual fact, be lifted from Brooke’s poem, Tiare Tahiti, written during his travels in the South Pacific, immediately before the onset of war. Brooke’s gently satirical poem told the story of the idle pursuit of glory in the afterlife of heaven. As America entered the war, Scott had become utterly convinced that he would suffer the same fate as Brooke and his classmates at Princeton like Jack Newlin. Because of this, he anxious to finish his novel as soon as possible, the heroic romances of Sir Walter Scott adding an encouraging symmetry to the blithe downpayment of his dreams: “Fight on, brave knights! Man dies, but glory lives!” [22]  The maudlin, morbid energy shown by Scott and other talented youngsters was clearly something that Leslie and his associates at the Department of War in Washington could work with. That August, Leslie told Scribner that Scott’s novel would give expression “to that real American youth that the sentimentalists and super patriots” had been so anxious “to drape behind the canvas of the Y.M.C.A.” He said much the same thing to Scott, but had whetted Scribner’s appetite with a more exciting dimension — with any luck, it might get banned: “you may depart in peace and possibly find yourself part of the Autumn reading banned by the Y.M.C.A. for use among troops!” Leslie had probably sensed that Scott was still too much of realist to subscribe to the romance of dying for one’s country, or the “hero stuff” as he told his mother. Scott had told Mollie Fitzgerald that he had gone into all this quite, “cold-bloodedly.” All his reasons had been socially driven. Nevertheless, he feared the worst and if the worst was going to come then at least there would be a lasting echo in life left in print for the world to sigh over. In fact, the closer his passing got, the more eager he seemed to have it, as if it was the one route guaranteed to restore his flagging fortunes at Princeton and with girls: “If you want to pray, pray for my soul, and not that I won’t get killed—the last doesn’t seem to matter, and if you are a Catholic, the first ought to. To a profound pessimist in life, being in danger is not depressing. I have never been more cheerful.” [23]

To put it in the glibbest of terms, Scribner had taken Leslie at his word and signed a dead poet to their roster of Conservative talent. Luckily for them, Scott had made them money without being cut to ribbons leaping heroically from one trench to another in northern France, or dying of dysentery as he waited for battle. Being a famous novelist who still responsive to the full gamut of experiences in life had suddenly more attractive, more lucrative and almost certainly more enduring than a glorious death. Somehow, he and Zelda had captured the spirit of the period and the period still had some life left in it. Ever since the publication of Scott’s book a nervous kind of energy had been rippling through the air. Sparks were being made. Scott had become the poster boy of “the wildest of all generations”. Liquor spilled from the copper stills of Chicago to the battlefields of the speakeasies on Fifth Avenue. The age of loss had given way to the age of excess. America, under Harding, started ramping up mass production and new borrowing opportunities and hire schemes were allowing more and more people to benefit from these goods. After a temporary dip in fortunes, balances were being restored.

The ravages of the war had stimulated America into overproduction and now there was an overabundance of energy and meaning, not just for Scott but for everyone under the age of thirty. Usually, the only real way of countering loss is by ramping-up the value and the accumulation of ever more meaningless things. This was the same after any war. There was more dancing, more sex, more carnival, more pleasure. For that moment on, it really was “an age of miracles.” [24] Scott may have spent the rest of his life feeling robbed of his romantic early death and all the fail-safe glory that came with it, but if Scott had had his way he would have crawled into the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and got ‘beautifully stewed’ that day.  Instead, he left for Venice, leaving before the mass outpouring of grief that was Memorial Day on May 30th. [25] For the moment, heaven could wait. He still had a few good nights left in Babylon.

Bastille Day

A month after the New York Herald had broadcast the arrival of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the same newspaper would announce the arrival of Scott’s Princeton buddy, Edmund Wilson. Fellow New Yorker Wilson would repeat the same tortuous trip to France and Italy in July that year. Despite the pair’s best efforts to meet up, Wilson would miss seeing the Fitzgeralds by days. By the time that he had landed in France, Scott was already enroute to  Rome. It was left to their old friend, John Wyeth — the “pure aesthete” they had known at Princeton — to share the news with Wilson, having dined with Millay and Scott just a few days before his boat, the La Lorraine had docked in Le Havre. A week or so earlier, Wilson had received a “bawdy French postcard” from Scott, signed Anatole France, but there had been other letters too, not all of them so light in tone. In a letter dated July 5th Wilson had responded to a violent tirade against Europe that Scott had embarked on from the Hotel Cecil. Edmund had arrived in Paris on June 20, several days after Scott and Zelda had left for Italy. At this time Wilson was still at the Mont Tabor Hotel and their various communications were out of sync. A short time later he relocated to a little guesthouse at 16 Rue du Four in the Latin Quarter of the city.

On June 22nd Wilson wrote to Scott bemoaning the fact that they had been unable to hook-up. At this point he knew nothing of the couple’s contemptuous view of Europe and Scott’s blistering Aryan wrath. The letter that written by Scott, expressing his particular fury with Italy, would be written on Hotel Cecil stationery and mailed to Wilson in Paris in the first few days of July. [26] We’ll be looking at the contents of the letter in a little more detail a separate chapter, but for now, all we really need to know is that the letter that Wilson sat down to write on June 22nd was a reply to an earlier postcard that Fitz had sent with instructions to leave a message at the Bureau American Express at 11 Rue de Scribe. Sadly, no such message ever materialised. Scott’s first letter reveals that he was as anxious to see Wilson as Wilson was to see him: “Edna has no doubt told you how we scoured Paris for you. Idiot! … We came back to Paris especially to see you.” In the event they weren’t able to meet, Wilson explained that he expected to be back in France that August should they fail to cross paths before then. Someone else making the trip to Paris that month was US lawyer John Quinn, the friend and sponsor of Aleister Crowley during his relatively unremarkable spell in Greenwich Village, and fresh from representing Jean Heap and Margaret Anderson in the infamous Ulysses obscenity case. Wilson, Anderson and Crowley had been virtually neighbours during this period: Wilson at 114 West 12th Street, the Little Review offices at 27 West 8th Street and Mr Crowley at West 9th Street. In fact Wilson could have walked to Crowley’s apartment in less time that it took to repeat the Jazz Age Magickian’s ‘anything goes’ catchphrase, ‘Do What Thou Wilt.’ [27]

America’s literary revolutionaries couldn’t have arrived in Paris a better time; on July 14th it was Bastille Day, the national anniversary of the gloriously iconic ‘Storming of the Bastille’ during the French Revolution of 1879. Acknowledging the friends’ Francophile sentiments, Fitz had signed several of his letters ‘Anatole France’ whose Revolt of the Angels, an ambitious revolutionary allegory in the mould of Paradise Lost but with a Socialist-Catholic bent, had been referred to by Scott in several of his earlier stories. [28] According to his Three Cities essay, Scott and Zelda had sat outside Anatole’s house in Paris for over an hour “in the hope of seeing the old gentleman come out.”

Quinn, a millionaire of Irish extraction who possessed the same vast energies and the same propensity for notoriety as the gold-hatted and high-bouncing millionaire, Jay Gatsby, had been in Paris to meet Romanian artist, Constantin Brancusi, a passionate Bohemian pleasure-seeker who he had been supporting and exchanging letters with since 1913. It was around this same time that Quinn had befriended Scott’s mentor, Shane Leslie. According to Leslie’s biographer, Otto Rauchbauer, the pair’s union had been forged during Shane’s campaign for the Gaelic League in America in 1911, in which Quinn, the noble buyer and patron saint of the avant-garde, had been its most generous donor. Quinn had also stepped in to defend the managers of the Abbey Theatre after a spate of riots had broken out among Irish Nationalists unhappy with its depiction of an immoral Ireland in Synge’s 1907 play, Playboy of the Western World. Although critical of Leslie’s decision to focus more upon the broad events of Irish history than on the pressing needs of the League in his speeches, Quinn agreed with others that Leslie would help balance the more extremist (and anti-Modernist) side of the nationalist organization that had taken part in the Playboy riots. [29]

On the very day that the Manchester Guardian had published their review of Fitz’s debut novel, Quinn had written to Brancusi: “one can’t have too much of a beautiful thing.” [30] There was great beauty to be found in everything: in shapes, in colours and in words There was great beauty to be found in everything: in shapes, in colours and in words — even if those words weren’t what everyone wanted to hear. After arriving in Paris in the first week of July Quinn had arranged a short meet with James Joyce, in which the Ulysses author had grilled him about US Copyright protection and the Little Review affair. The court’s position on Ulysses in the United States hadn’t changed. In terms of US censorship laws, the book was still a hot potato. Publishing it there was out of the question. Quinn dryly explained to Joyce and his publisher, Sylvia Beach, the reality of what they were facing. Not that they needed telling. Only that April, the husband of the woman they had tasked with typing up a copy of the Ulysses manuscript had come across on his wife’s table, read a few pages and had been so incensed by what he’d read that he’d torn it up and burned it. [31] At the end of May, Beach had been telling her family and friends that in view of the huge success of her shop, she was planning to publish Ulysses herself: “the greatest book and author of the age.” The uproar that the trial had stirred back home was clearly something she was prepared to work with. Despite his support, her friend Ben W. Huebsch found himself unable to publish the book without the revisions required to pass the US censors. Beach’s frustration was balanced with a sense of heroic determination. In letters to folks back home she even mentioned the anecdote about the man at the British Embassy burning the copy of Joyce’s book, and at least one chapter of the original manuscript, that his wife was typing up. The man may have been Reverend Arthur Rocke Harrison who had served as assistant chaplain at the British Embassy in Paris and as chaplain in Pau before his move to the Embassy in Riga in the following year.  After catching up with another of his curious assets — the surrealist poet, Henri-Pierre Roché in Fontainebleau and Sylvia Beach at the new premises of her bookstore in La rue de l’Odéon — Quinn followed Wilson to Italy and from there he sailed to England. [32] A year later, Quinn and Leslie would exchange a series of letters about the book, which just like Synge’s Playboy, would end up stoking Irish Nationalist tensions at one of the most politically sensitive times in the country’s history.

Trouble in Rome

After a few days sightseeing in Venice and Florence, Scott and Zelda arrived in Rome in the second week of June. The money may have been running out, but that didn’t stop the couple from checking into The Grand — a five-storey, five star hotel in one of the city’s highest and healthiest districts. The couple had arrived in Italy at a volatile time. The General Elections in mid-May had resulted in triumph for Mussolini’s paramilitary fascists. It was a deeply revolutionary period marked by fierce street battles between the reactionary Blackshirts, the Socialists and the Communists. Mussolini himself had just been elected in Ferrara by an overwhelming majority and tensions were mounting. [33] Scott’s account of seeing an American woman kicked in the stomach by a group in military uniforms may well have come as a response to violence being meted out to anyone who wasn’t an Italian national — with the Americans and the English often bearing the brunt of the Carabinieri’s wrath. The elections of May 1921 had led to the collapse of Giovanni Giolitti’s government as Italy adjusted to the swelling of national pride under the Fascists. Liberalism was now in crisis and control was being lost. There were some positives, however. The week that Scott and Zelda arrived marked the first time that taxicabs like those in New York were being allowed to take fares in its streets, something that is likely to have benefited the couple’s love of gadding around on the fly.

Years later Zelda would remind Scott of the times they had spent “drinking, drinking and drinking” in the company of their friends at the British Embassy, where they scratched behind the palms as result of a virulent “flea season.” [34] The British Embassy at this time was headed by British Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, the wise, old safe-pair of hands who had weathered the storm of the Revolution in Russia only to find himself staring into the wild abyss that marked the birth of Fascism. [35] Buchanan had been forced to vacate the British Embassy in Russia after the Bolshevik triumph in October 1917 and had been redeployed to Rome in October 1919. Scott had very nearly made it to Russia himself, when he had been recruited by former Newman mentor, Monsignor Sigourney Fay on a three-month ‘secret mission’ for the US State Department and Catholic Church under the banner of the American Red Cross. Their friend Shane Leslie, who had been earmarked to go too, but as he was not an American citizen he was excluded from representing the neutral interests of the charity organisation. Shortly after an attempted coup on Kerensky’s Provisional Russian Government led by belligerent Tsarist General, Lavr Kornilov, the whole mission was shelved indefinitely. Passport applications made out by Fay and Scott in August to travel on the Empress of Russia at the end of September were put on hold. The plan had been to take the route through Japan and the Pacific to avoid submarine warfare in the Atlantic. After the Bolshevik revolution took place in October 1917, all plans for the trip had been aborted and Scott was earmarked to accompany Fay to Italy instead. [36] Leslie and Fay had both been in Russia in 1907 — Fay accompanying Bishop Charles Grafton of Ford Du Lac and Leslie on a year-long tour of the country arranged by Maurice baring (and old acquaintance) and Alexander von Benckendorff, the Tsarist Ambassador in London — a Roman Catholic — who had played a key part in organizing that year’s Anglo-Russian Agreement. Travelling with Baring, Leslie had found Russia to be one of the most religious countries in the world. Whether it was the remote farmlands of Sosnóvka or the heavy, political centre of St Petersburg, trains were in no hurry, and in place of waiting rooms at the stations, they had chapels. In a letter to his friend, Edmund Wilson, Scott had reminded him that 40% of the men in America’s army were Irish-Catholics. [38] The church’s role in managing opinion among Irish-Catholics was immense. Fay would be serving as Washington’s wirepuller at the Vatican, and making every attempt to grind down the Pope’s resolve on remaining neutral in the war with Germany. In 1918, Leslie would provide Fay with a series of ‘secret letters’ prepared by members of the American government for use during his talks with the Pope on matters in Europe and the Irish Question. [37] Buchanan wasn’t long for Rome. Just a few days before Scott and Zelda’s arrival, it was being announced in the British Press that Buchanan was to retire and that his replacement was to Sir Lucas  Malet. News was also coming through that there was to be a brand new Japanese Embassy at the Vatican.

Joining Buchanan as Secretary to the diplomatic mission in Rome were the former Times of London correspondent, William Kidston McClure and Henry Leslie, a distant cousin of Shane. [39] Henry had his own cross to bear that week, having learned that his family seat at Ballybay House back in Monaghan in Ireland had been burned to the ground by Sinn Féin just three weeks earlier.[40] The incident had been just one of several outrages committed at this time, and it’s entirely possible that this and the deadly ambush of troops and police in County Kerry had prompted the outburst of America’s Admiral Sims at the English Speaking Union a week or so later. Whilst the Leslies had been at the forefront of the Home Rule movement, their cosy relationship with Ireland’s imperial masters was attracting an unusually hostile response from impatient rival factions. Scott’s friend and Henry’s cousin, Shane Leslie would find himself playing a critical role in the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. As a pro-Irish supporter of the British crown his contribution was seen as vital to the creation of some kind of parity between the groups. [41] It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times. Writing of their stay in Rome shortly after the publication of Gatsby in April 1925, Scott would tell his editor at Scribner that Italy had depressed them both beyond measure: “a dead land where everything that could be done or said was done long ago — for whoever is deceived by the pseudo-activity under Mussolini is deceived by the spasmodic last jerk of a corpse. In these days of criticism it takes a weak bunch of desperates to submit for 3 years to a tyrant, even a mildly beneficent one.” [42]

The elegant, Palazzo-like hotel they checked into in the second week of June had, just ten weeks before, been the scene of another embassy drama when M. Fraissinet, the attaché to the French Ambassador and the son of a former war minister, killed himself accidentally whilst cleaning his revolver in one of the rooms. He had been in the capital less than three months. [43] The Savoy-run Grand Hotel, located between the ‘Moses’ fountain and the Naiads fountain in Piazza della Repubblica in one of the ‘highest and healthiest’ parts of Rome, was home at this time to Dorothy Caruso, widow of the legendary operatic tenor, ‘The Great Caruso’, who in the last years of his life had lived on Long Island, New York. Superficially at least, the hotel was an oasis of calm and tranquillity. Excitement buzzed gently around its corridors and the desperately fashionable bright young things of the West could blend themselves seamlessly into the current of Russian and Hohenzollern royalty that flowed like molten gold through its gates. But things were about to change. The following year, Mussolini and his Fascisti chiefs would take up residence in a suite on the second floor of The Grand in preparation for the March on Rome. On October 22, 1922 the New York Herald reported that a large number of reserve troops seized the station and occupied the plaza in front of The Grand Hotel, putting a temporary hold on the number of Fascisti troops entering from Tuscany, Umbria and Latium. A short time later word was received from the King that the troops were to stand down and let Mussolini and his men enter the city. On December 15 that year, Mussolini summoned his most trusted collaborators to the hotel for the first ever meeting of what would be named the Fascist Grand Council. [44] The hotel, which had once hosted peace-loving legends like Tolstoy, was becoming the engine-room of national vitriol. [45]

Scott’s own reaction to Mussolini and Italian fascism would be rather like catching a glimpse of himself in a circus mirror — he was simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by the idea. Talking to journalist Harry Salpeter of the New York World in 1927, Scott said he “did and did not want Mussolini”, who he regarded as the “last slap in the face” of Liberalism. If you didn’t want Mussolini “you were for the cesspool that Italy was before him”, and if you did want him “you were for Caesarism.” [46] In another outburst, he rejected the reforms made under the leader as “pseudo”. The Janus-faced Fitzgerald was speaking like a true Modernist. All he really knew for certain was that everything that Rome had once stood for was in decline.

Embassy Matters

During their stay in Rome, Scott and Zelda would also catch up with Yale graduate and author, John F. Carter, who had spent the previous three years serving as Secretary to the American Ambassador, Richard Washburn Child at the US Embassy. In his Three Cities memoir, Scott recalls how Carter, a long-time friend and lover of the couple’s mutual pal, Edna St. Vincent Millay, had loaned them a copy of Booth Tarkington’s new novel, Alice Adams which they read “under the shadow of Caesar’s house”, just east of the Roman Forum. Scott’s fondness for Carter was owed in part by an essay that John had written for The Atlantic Monthly in September 1920, in which he had described the wild young author as “the amazing young Fitzgerald.” [47] In October that year, Carter, who had been working on ways of pacifying and reshaping the Balkans along the multi-ethnic lines of the great US ‘melting pot’ for the American Peace Commission, would accompany Millay to conflict-zone, Albania, whose borders, under pressure from the League of Nations, had been newly opened to tourists. Millay and Carter’s journey is described in detail in her diaries.  A diary entry dated September 5, 1921 reveals that Ambassador Child, who had arrived in Italy in the third week of July, had told Carter that he and his wife were very anxious to see Edna and left it in the capable hands of Carter to arrange the details of the trip. An article in the CIA journal, Studies in Intelligence, published on the centenary of Scott’s encounter with Carter in Rome, would describe how the ambitious young diplomat had run a secret, off-the-books intelligence operation for President Franklin D. Roosevelt as America prepared to enter the Second World War. The fictional organisation that Carter had convinced the President to support, would later have a real-life organisation modelled around it with the ‘spymaster’ Carter running the show. Steve Usdin writes that Carter concerned himself with “an extraordinary range of topics: collecting dirt on Roosevelt’s political opponents, assessing the loyalty of Japanese immigrants in the months before the Pearl Harbor attack, commissioning a former associate of Hitler’s to compile a psychosexual profile of the Nazi leader, obtaining reports from the Polish underground on the Holocaust, spying on New York society, and much more.” [48] Two years after their meeting in Rome, Carter would seriously test any rapport they had formed with a scathing review of Scott’s play, The Vegetable which he not unfairly described as “cheap”, “trashy”, smug and “devoid of ideas.” [49] The likelihood of Carter cashing Scott a cheque for another thousands liras as he had done in Rome now seemed rather remote. Scott had found himself on the cruel and exhausting reverse side of being “young and amazing” — proving just how quickly the sliding scale of fortune could loosen the grip of one’s friends.

Bob Handley

“There was London, and Wopping with Shane Leslie” and strawberries as big as tomatoes at Lady Randolph Churchills. There was St. Johns Ervine’s wooden leg and Bob Handley in the gloom of the Cecil.”[50] Bob was mentioned in passing earlier, having appeared among several names and places mentioned in Scott’s ledger entries on London and in a 1931 letter he received from Zelda in the autumn of 1930. The fact that Bob’s name appeared in diaries and correspondence on two very separate occasions, suggests the encounter had been a memorable one. But why? Who was he?

At time of writing, there are no other details to go on than the man’s name. However, after a trawl of all those people travelling to and from London on business at this time, and focusing only on those likely to have had the money to stay at a luxury hotel like the Cecil, the most likely candidate is Robert Bernard Handley (b. 1875), Sub-director at the Banca Commerciale Italiana in London and privileged ‘correspondent’ for the Italian Treasury. [51] Although born in Rome, the 55 year old Anglo-American had found himself shuttling between Rome, Naples, Milan, Paris and London on a regular basis for over twenty years. By 1921 the bank had reached a position where it had almost complete control of Italian industry. His counterpart in New York was John Stewart Durland who had served as fiscal agent to the US War Department in Cuba during and after the First World War. [52] The passport application made out by Bob at the American Embassy in May 1920 shows him preparing for travel in France and Italy.

Bob’s father, Francis Montague Handley had been born in New York to a British father who had served in the Royal Hussars. In the early 1870s, Francis, a successful banker and respected sculptor, had made his way to Rome were he became head of the Anglo American Bank at 79 Piazza di Spagna, a butterfly-shaped square known for its first-class restaurants and Spanish architecture. During his summer trip to Rome, Scott would wander up this same street open mouthed during the couple’s pilgrimage to the final dwelling place of his hero, John Keats. Keats’ house, less than 200 feet away from Handley’s bank at 26 Piazza di Spagna, had also been shared by Shelley. Built as part of the famous ‘Spanish Steps’ project, the elegant three-storey building had been lovingly restored as a ‘Memorial House’ by American poet, Robert Underwood Johnson, a good friend of the Handleys. According to a self-penned interview that Scott produced for Cosmopolis, he and Zelda would take an apartment on the street when he returned in December 1924 to work on The Great Gatsby, a book that would end up capturing the spirit of both poets in its gorgeously lyrical prose. [53] It’s not entirely clear why the author came back to Rome to write the novel, because on his first trip in 1921 Scott had been less than impressed with the square, telling Thomas Alexander Boyd back in his hometown of Saint Paul that it was “a close, dismal hole which had looked out on a cluttered, squalid street through which diseased children ran.” [54]

Like Scott’s friend, Shane Leslie, Bob’s father, Francis Handley had been made Chamberlain to Pope Leo XIII and spent the duration of the their stay in Rome living in the grounds of the Vatican. Francis would also be the first American to be made a Commander of the Order of St. Gregory. His role as Chamberlain to the Pope would continue under Pius X, high-status position in Rome bringing him into contact with the Catholic nobility of France, Italy, Switzerland and Great Britain, among them the Duke of Beaufort and the Commander of the Pope’s Swiss Guard, Frederick Meyer von Schauensee, a Swiss baron. [55] On Robert’s passport application in 1920, the name that that Robert provides as part of his bona fides is retired banker, Robert D. Toland of Spruce Street, Philadelphia. Toland’s sister, Matilda Toland, had married Baron Schauensee and the two families remained close for many years, their son, Max de Schauensee, an opera singer and music critic, becoming a respected figure with Otto H. Kahn and the Metropolitan Opera Company. [56] That same passport application reveals that Bob was “known to the US Embassy.” Robert had two brothers who remained prominent figures in US and Italian relations. William W. Handley would serve as US Consul General in Naples from 1904 to 1914 and younger brother, the Bristol-born editor and advertising executive, John Montague Handley of Chicago would become co-founder of the Italy America Society. In 1924, John would receive the Chevalier of the Crown of Italy from Leopoldo Zunini, Consul General of Chicago for Mussolini’s government. The award was for the many years of service that John had provided in encouraging relations between the two countries — and for the cooperation he had shown its ‘directorate’ in Chicago, the Sicilian Mafia. According to the press of the time, the brothers had lived in Italy for 18 years and were believed to be “on intimate terms with members of the Italian nobility, government officials and literary men.” [57] The Society’s honorary president during this period was US Ambassador to Italy (and fellow Scribner’s author), Robert Underwood Johnson, passionate devotee of the poets Shelley and Keats, who would be relieved of his post in Rome just days after Scott had arrived back in London in July.

Carter and the Quai d’Orsay

Whilst it is impossible to know for certain if Scott and Zelda’s Hotel Cecil ‘playmate’ Bob Handley is the same Robert B. Handley of the Banca Commerciale Italiana,he certainly makes sense in terms of the context. Scott and Zelda had just returned from Rome, where they had socialised with staff from the American and British Embassies. The fact that Scott’s friend Shane Leslie, who had arranged his trip to London, had a diplomatic status at the Vatican not unlike that of Robert’s father Francis some twenty years before, is also compelling. [58] John F. Carter Jr, the Embassy advisor who Scott had bumped into in Rome would almost certainly have been aware of the Handley family and their status in US-Italian relations, even if there is no evidence that he knew them intimately. It’s also interesting to note a number of other supporting details. Robert’s nephew, John Montague Handley Jr was a resident of Neuilly in Paris in the mid-to-late 1920s, where Scott and Zelda regularly met with Hemingway and where Zelda was hospitalised for a time. [59] Their shared interest and activity in the local arts scene means it is possible they had come into contact, but it is by no means certain that they did. A news item in the Paris edition of the New York Herald in June 1927 reports on an “informal tea” the Handleys had given at their home on Avenue Victor Hugo, a favourite gourmet haunt for Hemingway and Fitzgerald. [60] Around the corner from the Handleys at 44 Avenue Victor Hugo was the home of Louise Bryant, a friend of Scott and Zelda’s who had earned a scandalous reputation as a feminist and Soviet sympathizer. Also among the Handleys’ wider circle of friends was author Katharine Brush [61] whose novel Red Headed Woman would be adapted by Scott in an unused screenplay for MGM. It is also curious to note that Zelda was offered a place with the San Carlo Opera Ballet Company of Naples — a city that Robert would visit regularly on business. The Hotel Cecil was a rather exclusive, luxury hotel popular with consular figures and international businessmen, but in all fairness, this could be nothing more than a series of intriguing coincidences that collapse into a perfectly consistent yet ultimately misleading narrative.

Escaping from Italy wasn’t without its drama, the couple bribing the ticket agent with one thousand lira. The exchange was a fair one. For this they were given the compartment of a train that would otherwise be occupied by some leathery old General of the Italian Royal Army. Given the belligerence and astonishing triumph of Mussolini and his Fascists, it was probably hard to know which of them wanted out of the country the fastest. After Rome, Scott and Zelda made one last stop in Paris, retaking the rooms they had at the Saint James d’Albany Hotel, still managing to irritate staff with their goofy, American antics and their total disregard for the protocols of using elevators and preserving ice-cream. Scott would later write that an uncured Armenian goatskin that the couple had picked-up in Italy had stunk out the room and that the couple had passed the time by writing dirty postcards to their friends back home. Sometime around June 22nd Scott’s ledger records that the couple paid a visit to the Quai d’Orsay, France’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the scene of a frantic visit by British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon. [62] Curzon had arrived at the Quai d’Orsay on the morning of June 19th to try and settle the Upper Silesian Question. For this he needed the support of the French Prime Minister, Aristide Briand. In 1919 the Quai d’Orsay had played host to the Peace Conference that had given rise to the League of Nations and Britain was intent on keeping the Entente Cordiale intact despite their differences on the Near East and the ongoing tensions in Turkey. Playing on shared fears of the Soviet menace, Curzon had cooked-up an alleged plot between Turkey and Lenin’s Russia and it was this card that he played with Briand as they tried to thrash out a solution. Standing proudly opposite the Place de la Concorde as you enter the Left bank of Paris from the low-lying Invalides bridge, the Quai d’Orsay had little in the way for tourists, but if the couple had taken a short walk east to the Orsay Museum they would have found a diminutive scale replica of the Statue of Liberty designed for America by Bartholdi just thirty-five years before. Given Scott’s new found distaste for antiquity, he would probably have found it amusing that America, the shining bright light of progress in the world, had derived its inspiration from Classical Greece and Rome. One’s freedom, if ever there were any, was already in the past. And substantially smaller than one might have imagined.

Independence Day in London

Scott and Zelda may well have thought Europe was beautiful, but by the first week of July they had had enough of it. Ahead of schedule the couple booked their tickets back home. A return to England was the obvious move in the circumstances, as out of all the cities they had visited, it was London that had pleased them the most. For the next several days, Scott and Zelda packed their schedule with a busy itinerary: a final meet up with Leslie, some clothes shopping and a quick trip to Cambridge. The first few days were spent observing the American and English diplomats tackling their unresolvable differences over Europe and the Near East ahead of the Independence Day celebrations at the Hotel Cecil and dancing (under the direction of ‘Mrs Back’)  at the Savoy Hotel on The Strand. It was here that Zelda wrote of meeting Bob Handley and the insufferable “gloom” they had all endured. In Matthew J. Bruccoli’s Fitzgerald scrapbook, The Romantic Egotist there is a ticket-stub for the ballroom of The Savoy dated July 4th. At the hotel during the day, the former British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour had made an impassioned plea for a greater interchange of students and teachers between Britain and the United States — an event that happened to coincide with Scott and Zelda’s tour of the venerable old campuses of Cambridge and their pilgrimage to the old vicarage at Grantchester one time home of the author’s famously-dead, counterpart, Rupert Brooke. [63] For years there has been claims that the house and its gardens were haunted. At the nearby Orchard Tea Rooms, where Brooke had lodged in 1909, similar claims have been made. Here, visitors have reported ghostly footsteps and apparitions in the nearby river where the poet used to swim. Scott’s mentor Shane Leslie was a lifelong believer in ghosts and had swum with Brooke and his friends during his time at Cambridge. In 1908 he had edited two of his poems, ‘Dawn’ and ‘Wayfarers’ for the college literary journal, Basileon. Perhaps as Scott and Zelda settled down to a pot of tea and honey and a slice of cake at the Vicarage, they had listened for the rattling of an extra tea-cup or looked for a spectral trail of water leading from the tea rooms, past the lilac and  the pansy beds, through the sleepy grass to the shadowed waters of the River Cam where they may have spied his ghostly Lordship slipping back into his pool, “unforgettable, unforgotten”. For Scott, Leslie and Brooke the past was never dead. To poets like these, death was a bright, wandering frost that left a “white unbroken glory, a gathered radiance.” For those seeking immortality it was the obvious place to go. In his scrapbook, there is a picture of a trilby-hatted Scott, clearly hot and flustered, on some leafy country lane not far from the tea-rooms. Over the picture he has scrawled, “Grantchester” and a line from one of Brooke’s poems about the village: “The men observe the rules of thought” —  a sentimental observation composed in sentimental exile. [64]

If “the gloom of the Cecil” hadn’t provided the excitement the couple needed, then they were likely to have felt a lot more at home at The Savoy. Scrobo’s jazz orchestra had just landed in from New York and The Frolics were in from Paris. There was also a healthy contingent of Princeton folk arriving for the Bastille Day gala the following week. [65] The stiffest challenge the couple are likely to have faced between the time they booked their tickets and their eventual escape on The Celtic on the 9th, would have been the Conservative Club Conference that was getting underway at The Cecil. It was here that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Robert Horne, could be heard droning on about combating the spread of Socialism and the spiralling hikes in taxes that Britain would be facing as a result of the war in Europe. As far as the Liberal Prime Minister had been concerned, it had always been a case of ‘die now, pay later’. Success for the allies had come at a heavy price. Horne’s ongoing negotiations with Leonid Krasin and the Soviet were obviously stoking his fury. Britain’s brief but intense involvement in the Russian Civil War had backfired on a calamitous scale, and against all their better judgement the British coalition government had to thrash out a trade agreement and recognise Lenin’s Soviet. Any inside information that could be gleaned from Lev Kamenev of the All Russian Trade Council, through Leslie and Churchill’s cousin, Clare Sheridan would have been vital at this point. A draft of the agreement had been completed in January 1921 and September was their deadline to sign. There would be no hoofing around on this one. The Brits were well and truly ‘on the nut’. In mid-June Leonid Krasin had intimated in the French journal, Le Petit Parisien that the Bolsheviks were now in a position of offering them a £5 million escape route. The Russians had never really considered that a Communist State could live alone in the midst of Capitalist states and were in good position to offer some generous trade concessions. On the other side of the Atlantic, President Harding was weighing up a similar cash incentive. [66]

Scott’s own take on Russia can only be guessed at this time. His May Day story for Mencken’s Smart Set journal the previous summer, certainly hinted at support for America’s bloodied and beleagured Socialist protesters, and his youthful distrust of authority, but much of this energy could probably be traced to the prejudice he’d faced at Princeton and the instinctive compassion he now had for the world’s underdogs. Letters exchanged between the author and his editor Maxwell Perkins in the 1930s suggest that he took a sympathetic, if not exactly encouraging, view of the new regime. Commenting on his friend Wilson’s embrace of Leninism he wrote: “A decision to adopt Communism definitely, no matter how good for the soul, but of necessity be a saddening process for anyone who had ever tasted the intellectual pleasures of the world we live in.” [67] There was inevitable curiosity there, but no obvious support. The moral principles of Marxism were no bad thing, but it was clearly no place for individual genius to flourish. Probably keen to take advantage of the VOKs cultural exchange programme whilst it still existed, he wrote to daughter Scottie in May 1939 floating the possibility of a trip to the Soviet Union: “I am turning over several possibilities in my mind. One of them is would you like to go to Russia with a group of girls on an economically organized tour? I am sure such things must be going on at Vassar and you need only make inquiries about it and give me the data. I mean something for three or four weeks … it might just be an experience to go to Russia on some non-deluxe affair. Form your own opinion about how the experiment might work out.” [68] The truth of the matter is that Scott had little faith in any organised movement. The new war in Europe had always been inevitable. The way he saw it, the American rich would betray America in exactly the same way as the British Conservatives. And if America did get involved then the war was likely to lead “from anything from utter chaos to a non-Comintern American Revolution.” His advice to his daughter was to avoid any kind of direct confrontation with the Marxists whilst at Vassar; Communism had become an “intensely dogmatic and almost mystical religion” and whatever she was going to say was going to be twisted it into shapes which put her “in some lower category of mankind.” [69]

A Society Wedding

On the afternoon of July 4th 1921 America’s new Ambassador, Colonel George Harvey had attended the London wedding of Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough — the upwardly mobile daughter of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, whose implausible gothic refuge on the Long Island Sound appears to have provided some inspiration for Jay Gatsby’s fairytale mansion. [70] To avoid the glare of publicity that the wedding would almost certainly attract from the media, a small and intimate ceremony had taken place at the Chapel Royal Savoy at 9.00am in the morning, after tying the actual knot at Henrietta registry office in Covent Garden. Consuelo had likewise returned from Paris, although there appears to be no record that she or her friends ever crossed paths with Scott and Zelda during their stay. However, it may be worth noting that Scott’s host in London, Shane Leslie and his father John Leslie were both well acquainted with the family in Washington and New York on account of Consuelo’s first marriage to Leslie’s cousin, Charles Spencer Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough. [71] In the period leading up to the wedding, the couple had divided their time between the home they had in Paris and their temporary accommodation in the French Riviera, where the couple were having a villa built in Eze. [72] The newlyweds had collaborated on the project with Achille Duchêne, the popular landscape architect who had designed the water gardens at Churchill’s Blenheim Palace. The couple had both taken an active role in its design — the perfect fairytale ending to the perfect fairy tale romance. Consuelo’s mother, Alva took residence of the neighbouring, Villa Isoletta where Winston Churchill spent much of his holidays painting. Fitzgerald would later base the fictional village of Tarmes in his fourth novel, Tender is the Night, on his and Zelda’s own experiences in the same mountainous resort. [73] Consuelo’s marriage to Jacques Balsan was a world apart from the ruthless cash-for-titles union to Spencer-Churchill arranged by her mother in 1906. According to Consuelo’s 1952 autobiography, The Glitter and the Gold, the so-called ‘Dollar Princess’ had spent the morning of her wedding crying and alone, her eyes swollen with tears beneath the soft tulle veil and the wreath of orange blossoms, a girl in the first flush of youth led to the altar of social ambition and eugenics. [74] The scene would find its fictional counterpart in Scott’s third novel, The Great Gatsby, where it is repeated as a crucial moment in the life of the book’s complicated young debutante, Daisy Fay.

A few days before their wedding in London, Consuelo’s former husband and Leslie’s cousin, Charles Spencer-Churchill married Miss Gladys Deacon at 7 Place d’ Iéna, the home of New York painter-philanthropist, Eugene Higgins in the consular district of Paris. The wedding, attended by America’s new Ambassador, Hugh Wallace, had taken place on June 24 1921, just as Scott and Zelda were settling back into their room at the St James Albany Hotel, a short walk west. The bride’s gown had been woven in Italy.

George Washington Sets Foot In London

As bad as Italy was, things didn’t get a whole lot better in England. Sadly for Scott, he and Zelda had just missed the first series of polo test matches that had taken place between Britain and America since before the war. The Westchester Cup, as it was known, had taken place at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham after being billed as the “best and most feasible scheme for repairing the ravages of war” that now threatened to drive a wedge between the once solid allies. [75] Representing America in the game were Long Island’s Louis E. Stoddard and Devereux Milburn and making his International debut that day was Tommy Hitchcock Jr — the very man that would provide Fitzgerald with the inspiration for Daisy Fay’s cruel and bigoted husband, Tom Buchanan. Like Jay Gatsby in the novel, Hitchcock had completed his post-war education at Oxford University. [76] Enjoying the spectacle from the Royal Box was Mr and Mrs Churchill and the American Ambassador, George Harvey who had sailed in with Scott and Zelda on the Aquitania back in May. After an often frantic display, America ended the second of the games with a 10-6 victory over England. Whilst they missed the match they did manage to have a “curious nocturnal bottle of champagne” with the English team shortly before they left. [77]

If the dates in his ledger are correct, Scott and Zelda arrived back in London from Paris on June 30th. The very next day a delegation of representatives from the Virginia State Capitol including Richard L. Brewer Jr. would gather around a small plot of grass in front of the National Gallery of London. Britain was to receive a timely gift: a life-size statue of George Washington, identical in almost every respect to the original Houdon sculpture that had been gracing the Capitol Building in Richmond, Virginia for the best part of 125 years. Lord Curzon, fresh from his trip to meet with Prime Minister Briand at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris was on hand to accept the gift on behalf of His Majesty, George V. Beside him were a handful of lesser dignitaries, each shuffling awkwardly in the turbulent orbit of the grey-faced Mr Washington. Protestant preacher, John Henry Jowett, fresh from his mission on New York’s Fifth Avenue made a loquacious speech explaining the strong devotional bonds that existed between the two countries and their no less devoted brawl with the new Red Menace in Russia. The time for unity had never been greater. The only significant American dignitary there that day was Richard L. Brewer Jr, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. It was a symbolic and probably rather limited option, the House being the first elected legislative body in the New World back in the 1600s. After the American flag had fallen away, a 75 year old veteran of the American Civil stepped forward to lay a single melancholy wreath at its enormous stone base.  If they were expecting a gasp from the crowd, it didn’t happen. Any sense of excitement that one might have derived from the clicking of cameras and a few awkward mumbles was drowned by the shuffling of feet as the delegates, irked by the warm summer drizzle, contemplated what to do next.

George Washington — America’s most famous rebel, who had just as famously pledged to never set foot on British soil again — was back on English soil; the only thing helping him preserve that promise, a six-foot stone pedestal that kept his defiant feet some way above the rain-sodden enemy turf. The man who had forsaken the British flag, rejected her sovereignty and fought tooth and nail with its King was back on British terra firma among the mighty monuments and memories of Trafalgar Square. Well sort of. In a fashion, anyway. In actual fact, George had been plopped down rather indecorously on the farthest fringes of the Square just across the road from Charing Cross Station, staring defiantly into the ass of King George IV’s horse. The founder of the new Free World, who had for so very long personified the struggle with English tyranny and oppression, had found himself puffing his chest out rather awkwardly at the entrance of a national art gallery, more known for its romance and its relics than its revolutionary politics. As tributes went it wasn’t the most sensitive or most flattering. Celebrating those bonds that had been softened in the furnace of war — those shared Anglo-Saxon ideals of “manhood and character” — poor old George, whether he liked it or not, now occupied an underwhelming square metre of soggy old grass verge on a corner of the A400 that was forever England. Captain Disunity became Captain Rapprochement. Originally planned to be erected at Westminster Hall, this cheap bronze copy was now your classic parvenu — an incongruous romantic prop in a never-ending, and not entirely plausible, colonial drama. [78]

To be continued — God damn the continent of Europe: Back in London, July 1921

by Alan Sargeant


[1] ‘France et Japon’, La Liberté, June 1, 1921, p.1

[2] ‘To John Peale Bishop, July 3, 1921, Edmund Wilson’, Letters on Literature and Politics, ed. Elena Wilson, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1977, p.67

[3] ‘Literary Adventurer’, Chicago Tribune (Paris ed), May 28, 1921, p.3; ‘Dear General, Rev. Sylvester W. Beach, Princeton, N.J, July 18, 1921, Princeton Class of Eighteen Seventy-Six. Record Number XI, Princeton University Press, 1921, p.10

[4] France and Sherwood Anderson: Paris Notebook, 1921, ed. Michael A. Fanning, Louisiana State University Press, 1976

[5] Three Cities, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

[6] ‘Babylon Revisited’, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Saturday Evening Post,  February 21, 1931, Vol 203, No. 34, p.84

[7] The Literary Spotlight, VI, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anonymous (Edmund Wilson) The Bookman, March 1922, Vol. LV, No.1, pp.20-25

[8] ‘Babylon Revisited’, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Saturday Evening Post,  February 21, 1931, Vol 203, No. 34, p.86, p.82

[9] ‘Paris Police Announce New Check on Foreigners’, Chicago Tribune (Paris Ed), May 12, 1921, p.1; New York Herald, July 17, 1921, p.1

[10] ‘Why France is Joyous over Ambassador Herrick’s Return’, Boston Sunday Post, June 12, 1921, p.35

[11] ‘America’s Dead Heroes’, The Catholic Standard and Times, Vol.26, No.31, June 11, 1921, p.1

[12] ‘France Joins US in Honoring War Dead’, New York Herald, May 30, 1921, p.2

[13] The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925, p.2

[14] Tender is the Night, Book III, Casualties, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933, p.117

[15] ‘My Generation’, F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Short Autobiography, ed. James L. West III, Scribner, 2011., p.157

[16] Scott Fitzgerald, Andrew Turnbull, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1962, p.209

[17] ‘Dear Max … September 25, 1933’, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971, p.181.

[18] ‘Sleeping and Waking’, F. Scott Fitzgerald, On Booze, ed. New Directions Books, p.60

[19] ‘Death of Mr Rupert Brooke’, Winston Churchill, The Times, April 26, 1915, p.5

[20] The Romantic Egoist – Corrected Typescript, F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers, 1897-1944, Princeton, Firestone Library, Box 24, Folder 1

[21] ‘Dear Mr Leslie, December 22, 1917; ‘Dear Bunny, September 26, 1917,’ Letters of Scott Fitzgerald, p.377, p. 321; ‘An Interview with Mr Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald’, A Short Autobiography, Scribner, 2011, pp.5-7; ‘Books’, Heywood Broun, New York Tribune, Friday May 7, 1920, p.14. Broun’s review suggests that Scribner were mailing the press sheet as the work of the entirely fictitious journalist, Carleton R. Davis.

[22] Ivanhoe, Walter Scott

[23] ‘Dear Mother, November 14, 1917’, Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p.475

[24] ‘Echoes of the Jazz Age’, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack Up, James Laughlin, 1945, pp.13-22

[25] ‘Supper Dance to be Held on Thursday’, New York Herald (Paris ed), June 16, 1921, p.1. Hemmick was also helping to organise the French-American Welfare Centre.

[26] The fact that Scott’s letter was written on stationery from the Hotel Cecil suggests they had relocated to the hotel from the Claridge Hotel in the last few days of June (a letter Carl Hovey is written by Scott on stationery from Claridge’s Hotel in London on June 25).

[27] The phrase was Crowley’s infamous Message of the Master Therion in his Law of Thelema. Everyone should follow their own true drives, good or bad. It was the mantra of “anything goes” in Jazz Age New York.

[28] By 1920 Anatole France was lending his support to the Communist Party of France.

[29] Shane Leslie: Sublime Failure, Otto Rauchbauer, p.38

[30] The Noble Buyer, John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-garde, Judith Zilczer, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, 1978, p.41

[31] The Ulysses Trials, Joseph M. Hassett, The Lilliput Press, 2016, p.117; ‘To John Quinn, 19 April, 1921’, Letters of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellman, Vol III, Faber & Faber, 1966, pp.40-41; ‘To Marion Peter, May 23, 1921’, The Letters of Sylvia Beach,  Columbia University Press, 2011, p.86

[32] John Quinn, b.1870, United States Passport Applications, 1906-1925. He appears to have sailed on the ‘Paris’ on June 25th 1921. Like Wilson and Fitzgerald, he also visited Italy. The Ulysses Trials, Joseph M. Hassett, The Lilliput Press, 2016, pp. 118-119

[33] The National Fascist Party was founded officially in Rome in during the Third Fascist Congress in November 1921. The party’s earlier incarnation, the Fasci di Combattimento had been founded by Mussolini a few years before.

[34] The Collected Writings, Zelda Fitzgerald, Scribner, 1991, p.420, p.452

[35] Scott’s publisher Scribner had published Petrograd: The City of Trouble, written by the Ambassador’s daughter, Meriel Buchanan in 1918.

[36] ‘Dear Fitz, Father Sigourney Fay’, August 22, 1917, Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli, Random House, 1980, pp.19-21

[37] Shane Leslie: Sublime Failure, Otto Rauchbauer, p.49.

[38] ‘Dear Bunny, Fall 1917’, Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p.325

[39] The Leslies were a landed family in the County Monaghan, Ireland. McClure was a rather conspicuous man some six feet eight inches tall who had the sympathy and trust of a wide range of friends. His counsel was sought by various Ambassadors over the years.

[40] ‘Ballybay House Burned Down’, Belfast Newsletter, June 3, 1921, p.5. When the Fitzgeralds were in France, Shane Leslie learned that his father-in-law, Henry Clay Ide, the US Former Governor-General of the Philippines had died (June 13, 1921).

[41] America and the Irish Problem 1899-1921, Alan J. Ward, Irish Historical Studies, Vol. 16, No. 61, March 1968, pp. 64-90

[42]

[43] ‘Mort Accidentelle D’un Attaché De L’ambassade De France A Rome’, Le Bonhomme Limousin, March 20, 1921, p.1 ; ‘Another Fatal revolver Accident’, Westminster Gazette, march 15, 1921, p.12

[44] ‘Fascisti Enjoy Triumph in Rome’, New York Herald, October 22, 1922, p.2

[45] St. Regis Grand Hotel Rome, Andreas. Augustin, Most Famous Hotels in the World Limited, 2008. The hotel had been designed by César Ritz and is now known as The St Regis Grand Hotel.

[46] Conversations with F. Scott Fitzgerald, ed. Bruccoli, Matthew J, University Press of Mississippi, 2004, p.88

[47] ‘These Wild Young People — by One of Them’, John F. Carter, The Atlantic Monthly, September 1920, vol. 126, No.3, p.303.

[48] ‘John Franklin Carter’s Career as FDR’s Private Intelligence Operative’, Steve Usdin, Studies in Intelligence Vol. 65, No. 2 (June 2021), pp.19-31

[49] ‘Scott Fitzgerald’s Play’, John F. Carter Jr, New York Post, June 23, 1923

[50] Dear Scott, Late summer/early fall 1930, Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Random House, 1980, p.246

[51] Robert Bernard Handley (b. Rome 5 Nov 1875. d. 3 May 1955 Naples. Handley’s company was set-up in 1895. The Naples branch was controlled by Polish-Italian banker, Jósef Leopold Toeplitz. During the war Toeplitz and the bank were scrutinized by the pro-war newspapers in the US for their links to Germany. The bank‘s major shareholders were the Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, Bank fuer Handel und Industrie, and Bleichröder, Oppenheim and Berliner Gesellschaft. Between 1923 and 1925 Toeplitz supported the economic policies of Alberto De Stefani, first minister of Finance and then of the Treasury in the Mussolini government. He and the bank were regarded as the financial agents of the Fascismo.

[52] Bankers Magazine,  1917-08: Vol.95 No.2, August, 1917, pp.234-325. John Stewart Durland, b.1876. helped organise the National Bank of Cuba and the Bank of Havana in 1906.

[53] ‘Un Giovane Autore Americano’, Conversations with F. Scott Fitzgerald, 2004, p.72. John Keats died of TB at the house in February 1821. Scott, who had arrived in Rome several weeks after the centenary of Keats’ death romanticised about having TB himself. The 1924 apartment was at the Hotel de Palaces.

[54] ‘Scott Fitzgerald Here on Vacation Rests by Outlining New Novels’, St Paul Daily News, August 29, 1921, p.E6

[55] ‘He Resumes His Work: Francis Montague Handley’, Wauwatosa News, May 10, 1902, p.3

[56] Robert’s friend, Robert D. Toland would commit suicide in September 1921 (shot himself through the head). See: Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept 25 1921, p.1

[57] John M. Handley (b.1869), Family of Francis and Adelaide Handley, Census, England, 1871, Tottenham Place, Clifton, Gloucestershire; US 14th Census, 1920, Chicago; John M. Handley, Editor & Publisher, September 27, 1924, Vol.57, No.18, p.25.

[58] Robert B. Handley’s bank had just set-up new offices in Rome, the US and London. Handley would have been a prominent Anglo-American in the consular circles in Rome. Perhaps Scott and Handley had travelled back to England together.

[59] ‘News of Americans in Europe’, The New York Herald, Paris Edition, February 17, 1932, p.4

[60] ‘News of Americans in Europe’, New York Herald, Paris Edition, June 29, 1927, p.4

[61] ‘News of Americans in Europe’, New York Herald, Paris Edition, April 30, 1931, p.6

[62] ‘Lord Curzon’s Important Visit to Paris’, Daily News, June 18, 1921, p.8. Curzon would stay in Paris for several days, heading back in the last week of June. Curzon was a close friend of American Ambassador Cecil Spring Rice and was routinely challenged by Winston Churchill, especially on the subject of Irish Home Rule and the Near East policy, which Churchill tried to keep a tight rein on.

[63] ‘British and American Students and Teachers’, Evening Telegraphy, July 5, 1921, p.5

[64] ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’, Rupert Brooke, composed in Berlin in 1912.

[65] ‘Pall Mall Gazette, July 11, 1921, p. 11; ‘Daily Dances’, Folkestone & Cheriton Herald, July 2, 1921, p.4

[66] ‘£5, 000, 000 Soviet Deal with British Traders’, Daily Mirror, June 13, 1921, p. 22

[67] ‘Dear Max, January 30, 1933’, A Life In Letters, p.226

[68] Dearest, May 6, 1939’, Scott Fitzgerald: Letters to his Daughter, Scribner, 1965, p.90

[69] Dearest Scottie, March 15, 1940’, Scott Fitzgerald: Letters to his Daughter, Scribner, 1965, p.105

[70] ‘Duchess of Marlborough, Married’, Aberdeen Press and Journal, July 5, 1921, p.4. Belmont was the owner of Beacon Towers (modelled on the Hotel de Ville in Caen, France). Consuelo had divorced from Charles Spencer Churchill and was marrying French Aviator, Jacques Balsan.

[71] The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Harper, 1952, p.239

[72] The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Harper, 1952, p.239; The Expatriates, Ishbel Ross, Crowell, 1970, pp. 188-189. The Villa Lou Seuil. Churchill and his wife visited Eze-sur-Mer frequently, as early as 1922, when he took his first painting holiday in the south of France.

[73] In the novel, the couple stay at the Villa Diana. The couple also had a also had a chateau in Saint Georges Motel in Normandy.

[74] The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Harper, 1954, p.53

[75] ‘Polo Notes’, The Tatler, July 27, 1921, p.28; ‘The Second Polo International, Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News’, July 2, 1921, p.15

[76] The team’s Devereux Milburn was another ‘Oxford man’. His father was notably the chairman of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901, where President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz. McKinley was taken to the Milburn family home where he died. Scott’s family had moved from Buffalo to Syracuse earlier that year.

[77] The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, ed. Joan Paterson Kerr, Matthew Joseph Bruccoli, Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, University of South Carolina Press, 2003, p.84

[78] ‘George Washington; Statue of One Time Rebel in Trafalgar Square’, Westminster Gazette, June 30, 1921, p.5. The American-born, Lady Astor was also in attendance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *