Thursday, January 19, 2012

Literary Landmark No. 6 & No. 7

I thought I’d combine a couple landmarks on a theme: “Hotels.”

Hotel des Artistes
“The most famous building on a block originally filled with artists’ studios,” this site was home to artists of the painting, literary, and entertainment worlds. Its most famous inhabitants of these respective artistic spheres were probably Howard Chandler Christy and Norman Rockwell; Fannie Hurst and Noël Coward; and Rudolph Valentino, Isadora Duncan, and Gary Oldman.

The most sensational event associated with the building occurred on December 10, 1929.  Harry Crosby, nephew of J.P. Morgan, poet and publisher of the Black Sun Press, was found dead with his lover Josephine Bigelow in a murder-suicide that e.e. Cummings immortalized in verse:

            2 boston
Dolls; found with
Holes in each other
‘s lullaby.

In 1919, the Round Table was formed, and the Algonquin was the place for this incredible group of writers to rendezvous in first the Pergola (Oak) Room and then the Rose Room: F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.L. Mencken, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, and so many more.  The group was known for its sophisticated wit and sharp, conversational humor, especially one-liners.  Dorothy Parker once reviewed actress Katharine Hepburn: “She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.”

Later writers attracted to the Algonquin include Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Gore Vidal, John Updike, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Art Buchwald, Graham Greene, and William Faulkner, who wrote his 1949 Nobel Prize acceptance speech on the hotel stationery.   My Fair Lady was written in Room 908.

*These landmark reports are beginning to sound more and more like Wikipedia articles.  Oh, well; I still enjoy it.

No comments:

Post a Comment