Authors Who Met Cute and Not So Cute

Those of us who love literature also love to hear about encounters between literary greats — whether those encounters were short or long or in-between.

Author interactions can be mutually beneficial, stir competition, result in enmity, develop into lifelong friendships, be memorable, be awkward, be inconsequential, or various other things.

Let’s start with two situations involving Mark Twain: He was in the audience when Charles Dickens did an 1868 reading in New York City, and he later lived next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe for 18 years in Hartford, Conn.

Until an estrangement, Dickens was good friends with novelist Wilkie Collins — who collaborated on stories with Dickens, wrote for the older author’s publications, and participated in Dickens’ amateur theatricals. Collins’ brother even married one of Dickens’ daughters.

Like Dickens, Henry James was in contact with various iconic authors. He and Edith Wharton shared a close friendship, and, as a young man, the American-born James made sure to visit George Eliot — the English novelist he greatly admired. Meanwhile, Eliot and the aforementioned Stowe corresponded by mail many times across the Atlantic.

Another encounter involved Charlotte Bronte, a William Thackeray fan who visited the Vanity Fair author in London after Jane Eyre made her famous. Bronte, so intelligent and passionate in her writings, was less adept socially; Thackeray’s daughter Anne reported that Charlotte’s shyness and quietness made the evening a dud.

Two other iconic 19th-century authors, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, were friends for a while — with the former dedicating Moby-Dick to the latter. Earlier in the 1800s, American writers James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving separately met Sir Walter Scott in Europe — with Irving and Scott developing a years-long friendship.

Over in France, Gustave Flaubert of Madame Bovary fame knew Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Russian author Ivan Turgenev, and other novelists.

Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy met in Russia, and Boris Pasternak as a kid knew Tolstoy because the father of the future Doctor Zhivago author illustrated some of Tolstoy’s books.

Moving back to English authors, Aldous Huxley briefly taught George Orwell (then Eric Blair) at Eton — an interaction between two men who would write literature’s two most famous dystopian novels: Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Also, it’s well known that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were close pals for many years.

Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes were also pals — collaborating on a play called Mule Bone that wasn’t staged in their lifetimes because they had a falling out.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were friends, too, and The Great Gatsby may have helped inspire Hemingway to write a famous novel of his own: The Sun Also Rises. But their relationship mostly cooled later on.

Hemingway and James Joyce were acquainted with each other, and the former was a big fan of the latter’s work.

James Baldwin and Toni Morrison were friends, starting when Morrison worked as a book editor — and she would write a memorable New York Times eulogy to Baldwin after his 1987 death. Earlier, Baldwin and Richard Wright also had a good relationship until Baldwin, in a published essay, criticized some aspects of Wright’s Native Son.

Speaking of criticizing a fellow writer, Mary McCarthy during a 1980 TV appearance slammed Lillian Hellman (“every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the'”) — and Hellman retaliated by filing a massive lawsuit. The two authors had met here and there before 1980.

On a more positive note, Carson McCullers and Isak Dinesen were mutual admirers — which inspired McCullers to host a 1959 luncheon for Dinesen that included guests Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe (who had a strong interest in literature).

Harper Lee and Truman Capote were childhood pals in Alabama, with the Dill character in To Kill a Mockingbird partly based on Capote and Lee helping Capote research In Cold Blood. Their friendship soured after Capote didn’t give Lee enough credit for that research assistance.

Then there are authors who of course know/knew each other from being related by blood or marriage. They include — to name just a few — the Bronte sisters, the sisters A.S. Byatt and Margaret Drabble, father and son Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis, father and son Andre Dubus II and Andre Dubus III, spouses Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin and their daughter Mary Shelley (whose husband was poet Percy Bysshe Shelley), and Stephen King and Tabitha King and their author sons Owen King and Joe Hill. Also, Daphne du Maurier was the granddaughter of George du Maurier (whose Trilby novel gave the world the term “Svengali”), but she was born 11 years after George died.

Who are other past or present authors related by blood or marriage? Other unrelated authors who encountered each other in some way? Any information or anecdotes you’d like to offer about those encounters — or about author encounters I mentioned in my post?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else. Also, please feel free to read through comments and reply to anyone you want; I love not only being in conversations, but also reading conversations in which I’m not involved!)

For three years of my Huffington Post literature blog, click here.

I’m also writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in New York City and Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

173 thoughts on “Authors Who Met Cute and Not So Cute

  1. Wow! Seriously I have learned a ton of things today, all of it fascinating. On the matter of literary friendships, I remember reading an article once on Dickens and Hans Andersen, how they had long admired each other, and how Andersen came to stay with Dickens for weeks on end and drove him up the pole. I think there was something about how Andersen couldn’t even understand Danish or something. (Maybe it was Dickens’ attempts at it, I dunno but he was certainly scathing and hanging out flags when Andersen left.) In fact it sounded like he ‘d been scarred for life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Would have been nice to have had a more timely encounter, but last night I happened to look in one of my groaning closets and discovered Osbert Sitwell’s Noble Essences, a book of reminiscences about various famous personages of his acquaintance.

    There are, in this slim book, sketches of 1)Ronald Firbank, novelist– Sitwell and his brother seem to have known him better than anyone, aside from his own mother, 2)Gabriel D’Annunzio– liberator of Trieste and poet,3) Arnold Bennett, novelist, 4)Wilfred Owen, poet, as well as others, notably the painter Walter Sickert, lately maligned as being Jack the Ripper. (Sickert knew Whistler, and there are Whistler stories in the Sickert sketch– I mention them because in this very collection of replies there is a thread concerning him)

    Sitwell writes very well (as do all the Sitwells of that generation) and manages a sort of effortless, hospitable tone while strewing various elegant yet insightful phrases at the feet of his subjects. He was active in the topmost circles of artistic enterprise in London for many years, knew Strachey, Woolf, Jacob Epstein, Siegfried Sassoon,, Robert Graves,nearly everybody, really.

    The Firbank chapter alone is worth seeking out, and is why, after many years, I still hold onto the book– though until I opened again, and read it, I can’t say I remembered why I had it. A page of later, and I knew.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Alexander Pope, 18th century poet, though a tiny and crippled man, and a Catholic in an age when Catholics were subject to prejudice, was nonetheless a friend to many famous contemporaries– unsurprisingly, as he was a fellow Catholic and a Church official, Jonathan Swift– but also, Addison and Steele, John Gay, and William Congreve. His could be a barbed pen, and he held Colley Cibber (actor, playwright and Poet Laureate) to sustained ridicule in the Dunciad. His Essay on Criticism made him enemies for life, and after its publication, he went out in public with his Great Dane, Bounce, at his side, for protection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s some fascinating information there, jhNY! Definitely a Who’s Who of writer friends and enemies from that period. And I love the Bounce mention.

      Hmm…famous pets of famous writers: John Steinbeck’s dog Charley, Mark Twain’s cats on the pool table near the Hartford, Conn., desk where he penned many of his famous books…


        • It WOULD be interesting.

          Given that authors often work at home rather than in an office, dogs and cats may very well prefer having writers as their companion humans. 🙂

          Also, I can’t count the number of jacket photos that show an author holding a cat!

          I think Rita Mae Brown used her own feline as a model for the cat detective in her “Sweetie Pie Brown” mysteries.


          • On the chance you might do such a column one day, I will hold out on relating two instances of authors and their attachment to their cats. The authors: ETA Hoffmann and William Burroughs, neither of whom, at a cursory glance, seem like likely cat lovers.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Not sure I’ll do a column on that topic, but I’m glad to hear ETA Hoffmann and William Burroughs were cat lovers! I’m a big fan of felines myself, having at-times-simultaneously lived with six in my life (but none at the moment).


  4. Dave, I recall that several weeks ago, you mentioned that you were a fan of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, as am I. Your topic this week reminds me of that great episode, “Time’s Arrow” where the crew is sent back to 19th Century San Francisco. They meet up first with a young Jack London, who is serving as a bell boy at Data’s hotel. We later meet Mark Twain at a party hosted by Guinan, who figures out that the characters are from the future. In the episode, Mark Twain meets Jack London, and advises him to go to the Yukon and use that experience in his writing. I did a little research, and Twain and London never met. But it was a very entertaining double episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That WAS a great episode, drb19810! Thanks for mentioning it, and for describing it so well! Ultimately a two-parter, I think (with Twain ending up on the Enterprise, where he thought Klingon Lt. Worf was a werewolf 🙂 ). Terrific fictional example of two authors meeting (at different points of their career arcs).

      Though Jack London’s work could be uneven, I think four of his novels are amazing: “The Call of the Wild,” of course, as well as “White Fang,” “The Sea-Wolf,” and “Martin Eden.”


  5. As my mind works now in fits and starts, so do my contributions here. I had been meaning to send this last pairing in before, but then I remembered Pound with Ford and Lewis, and I forgot till now.

    A pairing of real consequence: Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, poets.

    Verlaine, though married, carried on a scandalous affair with the much younger Rimbaud at a time when homosexuality of any sort, much less the sort that ends in gunfire, was unfit for discussion, much less public display. Rimbaud went home to mama; Verlaine to a spot of time in the hoosegow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That WAS a memorable pairing, jhNY, eloquently and wryly mentioned by you. I remember several of us discussing Rimbaud under a recent post.

      Yes, a “dangerous liaison” for the time, as Oscar Wilde would discover a couple of decades later in more repressed England.


      • Ironically, their affair was mostly carried out in London, Camden Town. The shooting incident happened in Brussels. Belgium seems to be a place where sometimes bad things can happen to French poets– see also Baudelaire.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ezra Pound, was, as might be deduced from my earlier contribution, a networker and hooker-upper of people and opportunity par excellence. He even raised a fund among his contacts so that Eliot might devote himself to poetry, and eschew banking.

    Two English friends:

    Wyndham Lewis, painter and novelist (Apes of God), founder of Blast, a magazine of literary provocation to which Pound was a contributor of poetry, and ideas as contained in The Vortex, an essay in Issue 1. Pound was also the magazine’s most vociferous publicizer.

    Ford Maddox Ford, novelist (Parade’s End, The Good Soldier)– Before the Great War, he wrote under the name ‘Heuffer’, but changed it when anti-German sentiment prevailed. He also contributed to Blast a bit of prose that became, eventually, The Good Soldier, perhaps his most-read novel nowadays.

    Bonus: Pound met Henry James in London , their second encounter described in a letter home:

    “Henry James & I glared at each other across the same carpet, 2 weeks previous.”

    Pound considered James to be an admirable archetype of émigré artist, and wrote a fine critical essay on him some years later.


    • Nice for T.S. Eliot to have a friend like that! Reminds me a bit of how someone gave Harper Lee enough money to live on so she could write/finish “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

      Ezra Pound really DID get around and have lots of literary connections/friendships!

      I bet Henry James glared in longer sentences than Pound did. 🙂


          • jhNY, another couple that just occurred to me — novelists, not poets — is Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia. You, of course, were one of the people who recommended I read Morante’s “History,” which is a stellar novel.


            • Embarrassed to have forgotten them, having remembered so many others not so close to hand… never actually read Moravia, though i always meant to, especially “The Conformist” as I was, in college, wild about Bertolucci’s movie of it. And Dominique Sanda.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Well, you named a ton of people, jhNY. Missing some was inevitable. I missed quite a few myself!

                I haven’t read Moravia, either. I certainly wouldn’t mind trying another Morante book. 🙂

                Dominque Sanda! Haven’t heard that name in a long time. I remember her from the excellent Bertolucci film “1900.”


                • Love the opening scene in 1900, the fellow in costume wailing over Verdi’s death– wish I could find my biography of Lampedusa, but a quick swing around the premises yielded it not. In it, there’s an essay about the destructive force opera had on all the arts and history itself, in Italy. Very funny, even profound.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • That opera essay has me intrigued, jhNY!

                    “1900” is now a blur to me; I haven’t seen that movie since the 1970s. But I generally remember being impressed by its drama, sweep, political consciousness, and mix of actors/actresses from different countries.


                    • No worries. Most of the century following is a blur to me now, to say nothing of the movie. Was not prepared for the Italianate Burt Lancaster; my only other memory is a peasant cutting off his own ear and giving it to the patron. I hope it’s in the movie.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Burt Lancaster! I had forgotten about him being in “1900.” And that ear — ouch!

                      As you know, Lancaster (like many other movie stars) also appeared in some literature-inspired films: “From Here to Eternity,” “Field of Dreams,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “All My Sons”…


                    • Bonus factoid– the movie version of The Leopard, Lampedusa’s great novel which I bring up with monotonous regularity, starred: Burt Lancaster!

                      He did OK in each, I think, and was likely chosen, and wisely, for his international box office value, which probably eclipsed nearly every Italian actor’s of the period, and thus guaranteed distribution and some amount of press– but obviously, somebody Italian could have done even better, as an Italian.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Great points, jhNY.

                      Yes, I’m assuming Burt Lancaster’s birth name wasn’t Burt Lancasterini… 🙂

                      Certainly, moviedom is filled with actors/actresses who played a different ethnicity, from Natalie Wood as a Latina woman in “West Side Story” (back when performers of color found film roles scarce) to Meryl Streep as a Polish woman in “Sophie’s Choice” to…etc.


                    • Lancasterini was, if I remember right, a native of NYC, son of a postman, and of Irish extraction.

                      Have never seen his version of The Island of Dr, Moreau, but I’d like to. My favorite is the Laughton-Lugosi flick from the 30’s, The Island of Lost Souls. That thang with Kilmer and Brando is a terrible hybrid mix of beastly behavior and noble intentions ending in ruin– and that’s not a description of the plot.
                      I actually like the 30’s movie better than the Wells book….

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Nice when some actors come from humble backgrounds. I was thinking of that today when reading a review of that “Peter Pan” live TV special on NBC. Peter, as I’m sure you know, was played by the daughter of NBC anchor Brian Williams. A good actress apparently, but that doesn’t exactly seem like the merit system…

                      And thanks for the thoughts on those “Island” movies and the Wells book. As has been discussed by various commenters, liking a film better than the novel that inspired it is not a frequent thing!


  7. A literary friendship trio, Beat edition:
    Jack Kerouac (On The Road), William Burroughs (Naked Lunch) and Allen Ginsberg (Howl)– all Columbia boys.

    A literary feud:
    Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell:
    An acrimonious falling-out over Imagism, during which, Pound, belittling Lowell, manages to make himself look smaller with every epistolary outburst.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Beats — of course! Thanks, jhNY! There were of course some non-Columbia writers who eventually joined that circle or were on the periphery of that circle, at least for a time — Ken Kesey, Amiri Baraka, etc.

      That Pound/Lowell to-do sounds intense!


    • Thanks, jhNY! I’ve never read Dahlberg, but Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” and “An American Tragedy” are superb novels. (Plus Dreiser is from Terre Haute, Ind., where my wife was living when I met her. 🙂 )


      • Dahlberg is a bit prickly and at this point a bit obscure, but he’s a fascinating correspondent, and his recollections of his boyhood in the Kansas City (the title of the pertinent book I know no longer), where his mother was a lady barber, are gritty and detailed, even heart-rending, and a real hard look at life near the bottom at the turn of the 20th century.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. “Earlier, Baldwin and Richard Wright also had a good relationship until Baldwin, in a published essay, criticized some aspects of Wright’s Native Son.”

    This has always been interesting to me. James Baldwin received the exact same criticism of Go Tell It on the Mountain that he gave to Native Son. Langston Hughes accused Baldwin of being over-dramatic, and felt that GTIOTM was over the top. He believed that the concept of the book was good, but his writing style generally didn’t connect with people.

    And who did Langston Hughes say would’ve written GTIOTM better? Zora Neale Hurston. He felt that readers would’ve connected with her more because of her expertise in tapping to human behaviour and emotions.

    Speaking of which, have you read Mules & Men yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow — lots of irony there with James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes! It’s true that some people criticize in others what they do themselves, and that friendships/alliances are often far from permanent.

      There is no perfect novel, but Baldwin’s “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” Wright’s “Native Son,” and Hurston’s “Their Eye Were Watching God” are terrific books — among the best of the 20th century. I guess many critics/reviewers don’t want to seem 100% positive when writing about a novel, but it’s hard to find unforgivable faults in the three above books. Impossible, actually.

      I haven’t read “Mules & Men” yet; one of literally hundreds of recommended books I still want to get to. I’m currently reading Mario Vargas Llosa for the first time (“Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter”), and am enjoying it immensely.

      Thanks for another great comment, Anonymous!


      • Llosa’s comic masterpiece is wonderful and also auto biographical , a few Spanish speaking friends have told me the title is mistranslated and should actually be Aunt Julia and The Writer which if you think about it makes a big difference.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Donny! Glad you’ve read Mario Vargas Llosa’s book, too. 🙂 I do get an autobiographical sense from the novel; heck, the narrator’s name is Mario!

          Although I’ve only read about a third of “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” so far, I can see that the translation difference you mention IS big. “Scriptwriter” would seem to be the guy (not Mario) who pens those popular radio soap operas in the novel, while “Writer” could refer to Mario himself, who struggles to write in the book and of course goes out with Julia.


      • And let’s not forget that Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston were also critical of each other. He felt she relied too heavily on folklore in her writings and was too soft in her approach in discussing social justice. She felt his works were too heavy-handed, too race-centered. They both had different ideologies, but one didn’t cancel the other out.

        Literary criticism, just like any criticism, can be a good thing. I doubt that any of these *dueling* writers lost respect for each other. Being in the public eye means being able to handle personal and/or professional criticism…it comes with the territory.

        We’ve had a discussion before on Mules & Men, so no need for me to list why I love that book. Just read it whenever you get the chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anonymous, nice observation about Wright and Hurston! There was indeed a difference of opinion — and not just between those two — about how “political” or not “political” a novel should be. And while I don’t know if this was the case with Wright, some male authors’ criticism of Hurston — and the very willingness to criticize — had some sexism behind it.

          I agree that literary criticism can be great. Of course, a lot depends on the approach the critic takes and how the object of the criticism receives that criticism!

          I will eventually get to “Mules & Men”! Just can’t say when yet. 🙂


          • There were definitely some traces of sexism in Richard Wright’s critique. I get that he wanted black literature to initiate a national conversation on American race relations. That is why he wrote such provocative books with very memorable characters (Bigger Thomas, Cross Damon, Henry Dalton in particular).

            But just because Zora Neale Hurston went in another direction with addressing social justice did not mean she was too soft and out of touch with society. His words reminded me of how the black community viewed feminism; it took a back seat and wasn’t seen as important to black advancement as a whole.

            His opinions carried a lot of weight. It’s no coincidence that Zora Neale Hurston’s popularity began to decline after Wright’s statements.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well said, Anonymous. There’s room in literature for novels that are very “political,” not “political,” or “political” in less direct ways. A novel such as Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” probably fits into that third category — and also includes a feminist/woman’s perspective something like “Native Son” lacked. You’re right, the admirable civil rights movement often put women’s rights into the back seat, which was NOT admirable.

              Of course, so few African-American authors were published during Hurston’s and Richard Wright’s lifetimes that it’s sort of understandable that Wright would want all novels penned by black writers to directly address race and related issues. But every author has her or his own approach.

              It’s a shame that Wright’s views might have helped push Hurston into obscurity during the latter part of her life and for years after her death. Thankfully, Alice Walker and others helped Hurston become posthumously “rediscovered.”


  9. Very nice to see Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston included here. The Harlem Renaissance was one of my favourite literary movements, so I’m always pleased to see writers from that era mentioned anywhere.

    The Hurston – Hughes fallout was of course due to miscommunication and creative differences, but I feel there were other people on the sidelines who cheered the break-up on. Alain Locke was highly suspect. He was aware that tension was building between Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and the patron they all shared (I believe her name was Charlotte Osgood…she’s mentioned in Dust Tracks on a Road). Langston Hughes wanted more control of his writing; Zora Neale Hurston wanted the same. But what was interesting about Hurston was that she didn’t want to be known as a downtrodden black author. Osgood wanted her material to play up the stereotypes of black people, but Hurston wanted to break away from that and shift her writing focus to human behaviour and anthropology.

    So the Osgood/Hurston/Hughes partnership/foundation was cracking. Despite the differences Osgood began to experience with Hughes and Hurston, she still admired them as writers and even funded Hurston’s research for her Mules & Men novel. Alain Locke wanted full financial support from Charlotte Osgood, and the spotlight off of Hughes. What better way to achieve that than to break up a successful (and beneficial) partnership?

    He fueled the jealousy Zora Neale Hurston had towards the new collaborator that Langston Hughes brought in for the Mule Bone project, automatically took the side of Hurston during the Mule Bone disagreement, publicly cheered when Charlotte Osgood stopped her financial support of Hughes, and basically alienated himself from Hughes altogether, even though they were previously friends. He was like a mentor to Langston Hughes.

    I also read years ago that Hughes and Hurston both wanted Mule Bone to go in totally different directions. Hughes wanted a romantic/”love triangle” sort of play, and Hurston wanted a regular, everyday comedy that depicted positive black life. If they didn’t have outside influences, I believe they could have come up with a compromise to create a dynamic project. It was unfortunate that professional and personal jealousies, along with back-biting, dissolved such a wonderful team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the in-depth back story/explanation of the Hurston/Hughes feud! Fascinating.

      The Harlem Renaissance was indeed an amazing time, even with some of the depressing aspects — such as that feud.

      I also mentioned this in another reply, but literature is such an individual form of expression that it’s almost a miracle when a collaboration works creatively and without hard feelings. Unfortunately, Hurston and Hughes didn’t beat those odds. 😦


      • Biographies of lesser-known people in the inner circles of political/social/literary movements provide lots of information and history. That’s why I love going to estate and garage sales…you just never know what you’re going to discover.

        My father’s collection puts mine to shame, but I’m catching up.

        Duty calls, so have a good evening.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well said! Biographies of creative people — whether famous or lesser known — can indeed be treasure troves of information. They can also be great reads — and even novel-like when there’s expert prose and a narrative arc.

          Sounds like your collection WILL catch up with your father’s eventually. 🙂

          Have a good evening, too!


          • I also love Western history. Most of the books I bought when I was younger featured the regulars of the Old West (Billy the Kid, gold rush pioneers, Calamity Jane, etc etc).

            I went to a private book sale (maybe last year?) hosted by a friend of a friend who was retiring from the University of Washington. His collection of books on the Old West and the Pacific Northwest was jaw-dropping. I found a book on the cowboy Nat Love, and I remembered that name because I came across some references to him in my TN history books. He was born somewhere in Davidson County, which is the county where Nashville is located.

            So me being a former TN girl (quick shout out to Memphis), I quickly purchased Nat Love’s autobiography. He discussed his relationships with several prominent figures of the Old West, but his encounters with Bat Masterson really stood out. I found out things about Masterson that I didn’t know, like how he was known as a “friendly sheriff” despite his, ahhhh, less-than-stellar reputation. Nat Love stated how Masterson did not allow prisoners in his care to be mistreated/beaten, and if any local cowboys ran into trouble with the law, he set their fines incredibly low. Rarely where they punished.

            I mostly knew about Masterson’s careers with the military and journalism, and his gambling racket. Didn’t know too much about the ins and outs of his sheriff duties. Nat Love shed some light on an aspect of Bat Masterson’s life I wasn’t aware of.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Masterson covered the Jack Johnson-Jess Willard (the Potawatamie Giant) fight in Cuba for a New York paper….

              Thanks for the info on Nat Love– I’ve seen his picture around for years, but never knew he haled from the county wherein I misspent my youth.

              Once, some years ago, while watching one of those History Channel hours on the Old West, they told the tale of a town drunk who had run into trouble with a gunslinger– but the photograph they used for the drunk was actually of: Charles Baudelaire!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Too many Memphis – Nashville road trips for me to count. Quick stop to the Casey Jones Village in Jackson, hop back on I-40 east, cruise on to downtown Nashville, and go from club to club listening to live music until the wee hours of the morning. Good times, good times…

                The Tennessee Historical Commission was unsuccessful in gaining access to Nat Love’s writings and other materials. Those items are located in the Adams Museum & House in Deadwood, South Dakota. As far as I know, there is no trace of Nat Love in any Tennessee historical collections and/or exhibits, which is a shame.

                Liked by 1 person

            • Western history IS fascinating, Anonymous. I was probably more into it as a kid than I am now, but I still find it interesting. That private book sale sounds amazing!

              Nat Love, one of many African-American cowboys racistly and disgracefully almost erased from U.S. history until recent decades, is particularly fascinating — as is Bat Masterson. You mentioned Masterson’s journalism time; his becoming a New York sports columnist is about as big a career change as one can get after a life in the Old West! Nice that a book about one man (Love) shed some light on another man (Masterson).

              Terrific comment by you. 🙂


              • Bat Masterson was a man who could honestly say he did it all. He was successful as an outlaw and law-abiding person.

                I have to cut this short because my head is pounding. After-effects of the Stevie Wonder concert we attended last night. LOL. See you later.

                Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed– have picked up two books of recollections by Otis Skinner because each contained fascinating details about the Booth family (as in John Wilkes)which he had gathered over many years in the theatre– and on the boards with Edwin, if I remember right.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jhNY – those Otis Skinner recollections sound intersting – especially with regard to Edwin Booth. I read a great biography last year titled “My Thoughts Be Bloody” by Nora Titon about the Booth Brothers, who were born and raised in my home town of Bel Air, Maryland. Edwin was about a big of a superstar as you could be at that time, and was very much a “Unionist” and close friends with Julia Ward Howe. One facination piece of trivia: several months prior to Lincoln’s assassination, Edwin Booth literally saved Robert Lincoln’s life, pulling him free at the last second after being stuck on railroad platform as he was about to be crushed by a train, for which the Lincoln family was exceeding grateful and indepted.

            Liked by 1 person

            • One fascinating bit of trivia deserves another:

              Watching the PBS show History Detectives, I learned that Junius (father of Edwin and John Wilkes) had written a letter threatening assassination to President Andrew Jackson. JW did not fall far from the tree.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Back at you with more trivia – involving Robert Lincoln, whose life was saved by Edwin Booth. Robert was not at Ford’s Theater when his father was shot, but was at his bedside when he passed. Years later, Robert, as James Garfield’s Secretary of War, was part of Garfield’s entourage and eyewitness to Garfields assassination at a Washington DC train station. Years later, as an executive of the Pullman Company, Lincoln was accompanying William McKinley at the Buffalo Exihibition, and was eyewitness to McKinley’s assassination.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Wow — drb19810 and jhNY, I’m loving this trivia!

                  Robert Lincoln certainly had an interesting life (which lasted all the way ’til 1926). I read a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln a few years ago (around the time I visited her house/museum in Lexington, Ky.), and I recall that Robert tried (and perhaps succeeded) in getting Mary committed when she was having serious psychological issues in the years after her husband’s assassination.


                • re Robert Lincoln: WOW.

                  re that train station incident, lyrics from a song made after:

                  My name is Charles Guiteau
                  That name I’ll never deny
                  To leave my ancient parents in sorrow for to die
                  Oh little did I think while in my youthful bloom
                  I’d be taken to the gallows to meet my fatal doom

                  Liked by 1 person

              • That is such a great series. My favourite season is season 10 because a lot of the cases have music angles (Beatles, Motown, Bob Nolan, and a think maybe 2-3 more artists/genres).

                Liked by 1 person

      • Madame CJ Walker was the first black woman to become a millionaire in the US. She formulated and sold hair-relaxing compounds so that black women might have straight hair. In segregated Indianapolis, she established a shopping center for blacks, complete with movie theatre.

        Her daughter was instrumental in the Harlem Renaissance, providing support for artists and hosting salons and exhibitions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Great bit of information, jhNY! In addition to the writers we think of as central to the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, etc.), there were so many other creative and not-so-creative people tied to that cultural movement — such as the Walker daughter you mentioned, singer/actor/activist Paul Robeson, artist Romare Bearden, heiress/publisher Nancy Cunard, etc., etc.


  10. More connections:

    Balzac and Stendahl– Balzac wrote an highly complimentary letter to Stendahl after having read The Charterhouse of Parma three times, which was the most significant praise Stendahl ever received from anyone for his fiction during his lifetime.

    Stephen Spender, WH Auden and Christopher Isherwood– school chums. The former two visited Isherwood in Berlin and figure in his “Berlin Stories”.

    Ezra Pound and TS Eliot: Pound edited The Wasteland for Eliot, sparing the world a lengthy exercise in heroic couplets in process.

    Ezra Pound and James Joyce: Pound helped get Ulysses published via Shakespeare and Co.

    Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams– corresponded for decades across the Big Pond. Pound also helped him publish his poetry.

    Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares– friends and collaborators in Argentinian lit of a fantastical and philosophical sort.

    And here’s a strange one– William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler– don’t if they met, but Faulkner gets a screen-writing credit for The Big Sleep!

    Henry James was a frequent guest at Virginia Woolf’s home during her childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is “must reading,” jhNY. Those connections are VERY interesting. I didn’t know about a lot of them — including the Henry James/Virginia Woolf one. It feels like those two authors are from different eras, but of course their life spans intersected.

      I read Borges’ tales for the first time earlier this year, and found many of them to be terrific. What a master of the short-story form!

      I’m glad that the workaholic Balzac took a little time to do things like read and praise Stendahl. 🙂


  11. Here’s a bit of Hazlitt connectivity:
    William Hazlitt and ST Coleridge
    William Hazlitt and William Wordsworth
    William Hazlitt and John Keats– these meetings are inter-related, if I recall correctly. Coleridge was for a time considering a career as a Congregationalist minister–like Hazlitt’s father– and the young Hazlitt met him and walked for miles with him when he left for home, so enthralled was he at the opportunity to converse with such a wide-ranging intellect. Coleridge introduced Hazlitt to Wordsworth, and possibly Keats as well. There was later an acrimonious falling-out between Wordsworth and Hazlitt, largely over Wordsworth’s retreat from enthusiasm on the subject of the French Revolution- but Hazlitt’s amorous proclivities were also a factor. Coleridge’s dissipation of his formidable gifts caused Hazlitt to re-assess his admiration for the man. Keats and Hazlitt remained mutually admirable till Keats’ death.

    Hazlitt was also friends with Leigh Hunt and Charles Lamb, delightfully able essayists of the period.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow — Hazlitt was indeed connected, jhNY! That’s a real late-18th-century/early-19th-century literary “Who’s Who” you named there, and described so fascinatingly with its friendships and feuds.

      Given the era you’re talking about, I supposed we could throw in Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley knowing each other (in addition to the Percy/Mary Shelley/Mary Wollstonecraft/William Godwin connection mentioned in my column).


  12. Got a fun one concerning an American author whom I think is long overdue for a revival. Nelson Algren was introduced to Simon De Beauvoir ( the French Philosopher and consort of Jean Paul Sartre) in 1947 by Mary Guggenheim when the proto feminist was touring the states . From A Transatlantic Love Affair ” He lived in a hovel, without a bathroom or refrigerator, alongside an ally full of steaming trashcans and flapping newspapers, this poverty seemed refreshing, after the heavy smell of the dollars in the big hotels and restaurants , which I found hard to take”. Algren introduced her by her own account to ” Stick up men, pimps, prostitutes , baggage thief’s , and heroin addicts. Famously they slept together everyday they met and Algren was the first and possibly only man with whom she experienced sexual fulfillment, it would seem in the sack the author of the impossibly difficult Being and Nothingness was mostly the latter. Eventually Algren broke off the affair after a few quite torrid years that included a trip through Latin America together, after De Beauvoir wrote about it publically he turned bitter and things got ugly. Sadly but perhaps fittingly Nelson died completely alone ,impoverished in a Chicago slum 1981, the poor mans body lay unclaimed for days. I imagine most are familiar with his Man With the Golden Arm at least due to the movie version starring Frank Sinatra but his Never Come Morning deserves to be ranked near the top of post WW2 works of fiction in my opinion. His strange, often surreal short stories and sketches also make a nice introduction to an interesting ,original writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donny, that Simone de Beauvoir/Nelson Algren relationship is fascinating! Thanks for mentioning it and describing it. Definitely one of those scenarios that can be described as “opposites attract,” “slumming it,” etc. And you convinced me to give Algren’s work a try; I’ve never read him.

      Your terrific comment made me try to think of other relationships between writers with such different temperaments and/or countries of origin and/or literary styles. Not the best example, but Colette’s first husband was basically a writing hack while Colette became a much deeper author. But that happened with her later, after they were divorced, and they were both French.


        • Thanks, Donny!

          “…until Jihad do us part” — brilliant! Yes, that was an odd pairing you mentioned.

          Another that occurred to me was the affair between J.D. Salinger and writer Joyce Maynard. The huge age difference, a recluse with a more social person, etc. Though they did share a certain, um, narcissism?


        • So true, jhNY. If I’m remembering correctly, Colette’s hubby had more than one writer in his stable — and, as you say, took the credit. A jerk.

          The French public was led to believe that he wrote Colette’s first novel, “Claudine at School,” which is a helluva funny book. Fortunately, Colette eventually got proper credit.


      • Another of those intense creative friendships/love affairs was between Anais Nin and Henry Miller, both of whom were married. Henry’s wife June was a free spirit and pretty much open to outside encounters for both Henry and herself but Anais’s husband Hugo I believe was an investment banker (?) and, while quite open-minded and supportive of Anais’s writing ambitions, would have his tolerance stretched to be supportive of an affair between Anais and their friend Henry. Anai’s diary was expurgated and had all references to her affair with Henry omitted. I don’t recall if she was totally honest with Hugo or if he simply suspected more than he let on. In any case, after both Anais and Hugo and Henry and June were all dead, her uncensored diaries were published including her account of the affair. It was published separately and the first NC-17 film, ‘Henry and June,’ was made from it in the early 90’s. I remember seeing the movie tie-in edition of the diary. Apparently Henry and Anais’s letters were boiling over with literary and sexual passion, or a heady mixture of both. I guess that’s what happens when two prolific writers have an affair. They both have to write about it and bare their souls (and bodies). And both of these egos were somewhat exhibitionistic as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • bobess48, terrific comment (including its last few lines) about that Anais Nin-Henry Miller affair and writer affairs in general!

          As an aside, it’s hard to imagine a writer being married to someone in a profession such as banking, but love is complicated (and I suppose a banker spouse can provide a financial cushion some writers sorely need 🙂 ).

          Your comment made me try to remember other writers who had affairs with writers (whether they were single or straying from a marriage at the time). One couple that comes to mind is Dorothy Parker and playwright Charles MacArthur.


          • Even harder to imagine a writer who IS a banker, but TS Eliot was a manger of a Barclay’s Bank– it was during convalescence from over-wrought nerves brought on by his job that he wrote The Wasteland.

            And Wallace Stevens, poet, was for his professional lifetime an insurance executive!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Very true, jhNY! There are always those unusual exceptions. O. Henry also worked for a bank (and was accused of embezzling).

              We might have discussed this before, but I believe Kurt Vonnegut briefly ran a car dealership!


              • O Henry was merely anticipating the future, when the most stealing ever was done by bankers. Though usually they were not robbing other bankers– I’m thinking that was his mistake.

                Reminds me of a WC Fields movie, wherein a teller who was taking the Fields character’s deposit had his hat on– as if ready to abscond with it as soon as the money changed hands.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Ha! Yes, O. Henry was a man ahead of his time. Next time I buy a thesaurus, I won’t be surprised to see “banker” and “thief” as synonyms. 🙂

                  When someone steals from the rich, they are indeed punished more. Look at Bernard Madoff — if he had fleeced the poor rather than investors who included many already-rich people, I’m sure he would have received a lesser sentence.

                  W.C. Fields — that guy was hilarious.


                  • Fields, at least according to legend, was distrustful of banks and banking, and deposited over many long years touring the world as a top-billed vaudevillian, amounts of money in many, many banks, so that, should one or even some fail, he might still get cash out of a remaining account. He was said to have made one such account in the name of Guillermo McKinley, identifying himself to management as a bastard son, with instructions not to allow access to his account to anyone but himself or an agent of the late president.

                    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Dave,,,it was a major WP glitch, I never click on email notification of every single post, yet there is another place I comment I received all the comments who really wants that….. This morning I spammed all..that could mean I might not get info on your blog but I can easily find out..oh I wish i was tech savvy (:

        Liked by 1 person

        • Again, very sorry you had to deal with that, bebe. Sounds like way too many notifications flooding your email box. I hope there weren’t any, or too many, from this blog. Glad you found a possible solution, though not a perfect one. I wish I was more tech-savvy, too. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

  13. One of the most interesting encounters is unfortunately a hoax: the 1862 meeting between Dickens and Dostoevsky. What a meeting of these two titans that could have been. Here’s a link to one of the many articles on it. The hoax-er was outed once not one but two major Dickens biographers cited it as true:

    There seem to be more author/author feuds than friendships, although I seem to recall that Victor Hugo was at Balzac’s deathbed and wrote some nice words about him afterwards. Not sure about Flaubert. If so, he would be very young.

    Speaking of Dostoevsky, he and Turgenev had been friends until they got into a very heated argument. It was a debate over the corrupt influence of the West upon authentic Russian culture. Dostoevsky, of course, was the Slavophile. Turgenev was the Europe-loving traveler who also became friends with the young Henry James.

    There are the literary feuds that got aired on national television via talk shows in the 60’s and 70’s, primarily involving Gore Vidal and Truman Capote or Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal and just about anybody else. I believe he and Truman were mutual friends of Tennessee Williams though. The pugnacious Mailer seemed to bring out the fighter in almost everyone. And Vidal and Capote were in the running for who could be the bitchiest.

    In more recent years there’s the Tom Wolfe vs. John Updike/John Irving/Norman Mailer feud. Now that Mailer and Updike are both gone I guess it’s just Wolfe vs. Irving.

    Back to friendships: Walker Percy and Shelby Foote were lifelong best friends since college (I believe). They were also big Faulkner fans and once, before either of their literary careers ever started, they drove to Oxford to pay a visit on Faulkner. Walker Percy revered Faulkner but was too shy to get out of the car. Shelby was much bolder and just walked up to the door and knocked. This was around 1950 or so, probably around the time Faulkner either had won or would soon win the Nobel Prize. Faulkner opened the door. Foote introduced himself and he and Faulkner actually became friendly. Here’s a link to a Dick Cavett interview where Shelby talks of meeting him:

    And there is certainly a video on YouTube (from C-Span?) where he talks more in depth. That’s where I learned that much detail. I think he also talked about going with Faulkner on a Sunday trying to find some whiskey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brian, for your wonderfully wide-ranging and interesting comment!

      It was fascinating to read about that Dickens/Dostoyevsky hoax in the link you provided. Like you, I wish the encounter between those two authors HAD happened.

      There certainly have been quite a few author feuds — such as the Dostoyevsky-Turgenev one you mentioned and the various combinations of tussles among Mailer, Vidal, Capote, Wolfe, Irving, and/or Updike you also mentioned. Fortunately, there have been some nice author friendships as well. I didn’t realize James met Turgenev. Then again, James met a LOT of people!

      Nice of Hugo to have been at Balzac’s deathbed, if that was the case. I recall from reading a biography of Balzac several years ago that his death was a rather gruesome thing.

      And thanks for that memorable info on Walker Percy, Shelby Foote, and William Faulkner!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Vidal boasted a visceral loathing of Capote, and found him entirely repellant.

      I recall Janet Flanner and Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, egged on by Dick Cavett, descending into backbiting and threats of violence on my teevee. Not a pretty picture, but riveting, like a car wreck.

      As for the whiskey hunt made by Foote and Faulkner– if they were hunting in Oxford, or thereabouts, it could not have been easy, if even possible among commercial establishemnts, on a Mississippi Sunday, then or now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting to think of what causes that kind of loathing. Capote not being a very nice guy (from all reports)? Vidal being disdainful of Capote for not being more political? A class thing (Vidal was from a wealthier background)? Some displaced self-loathing-gay thing?

        Dick Cavett has a reputation for being intellectual, reasoned, etc., but it sounds like he didn’t mind an occasional TV-ratings-boosting fight!

        Great observation about the difficulty of finding whiskey for Foote and Faulkner. Those two probably gave Blue Laws an “F,” like their last initials. 🙂

        Thanks, jhNY!


        • Cavett, as compared with his contemporaries in the biz, was a man of culture and some intellectual standing. But I saw Cavett interview Tennessee Williams on his talk show– and as an unannounced treat for Williams, he had his wife read some classic Williams stuff on-air– needless to say, Williams was shocked at the impertinence, but managed to be close to gracious about it– but me, I never thought much of Cavett before then, and even less, after.

          As for Capote and Vidal, Vidal more or less equated the former with vermin– something that needed to be driven out of the house without mercy and with haste. I believe the histrionic effeminacy was a bit much for the (comparatively) more buttoned-up Vidal. But then there’s the old NA line: If you spot it, you got it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I guess it’s all relative. Dick Cavett indeed had a more sophisticated, brainy aura than most other TV hosts, yet he undoubtedly knew that controversy (including battling celebrities) “sold.” And thanks for that interesting Cavett/Tennessee Williams anecdote!

            Makes sense what you said about Vidal and Capote. Gore indeed probably thought that Truman was too “out there.”


  14. Dave, lets not forget the love between Thoreau and Emerson, the two aren’t fiction authors (though parts of Walden come close) but they are extremely popular American writers.

    Emerson in particular, as a Transcendentalist, was despised by Herman Melville. Emerson was also a correspondent of Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish philosopher, after a trip overseas until Carlyle’s death. While there he also met a few other British writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent mention of Thoreau and Emerson, GL! I guess, in that time, one could also include people like Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne in that group of New England writers who met and knew each other.

      As for your second paragraph, I seem to remember reading somewhere that one of the British writers Emerson met was George Eliot.

      I didn’t realize Melville felt that way about Emerson!


  15. I like to intersperse biographies amongst the novels I read. One (fascinating) biography I recently completed was “A Godly Hero – The Life of William Jennings Bryan” by William Kazin. The only things I knew about Bryant was that he ran for President a lot, and was the bombastic, fundamentalist prosecutor at the Scopes trial (portrayed, as it turns out, quite accurately in that great play, “Inherit the Wind”). What I didn’t realize was how progressive and socialist were his beliefs. Yes, he was without a doubt a Fundamentalist. But for him, that meant that Christianity favored the downtrodden, and that the United States was in the clutches of the evil money-grubbers – the railroad moguls and bankers. He would have been quite aghast at today’s Fundamentalists in their support of the Tea Party backed by the likes of the Koch Brothers trying to influence government to favor the haves at the expense of the have-nots. Yes – he was eager to discredit Darwinism, but the main reason behind his opposition was not so much the scientific evidence underlying natural selection, but its implications, popular at the time, regarding Social Darwinism, and its implied support of Eugenics. The text book in question in the trial had chapters that argued the superiority of the white race, and the duty of humanity to improve itself through selection, in a way similar to the improvement of livestock through selection. This was quite a popular belief at that time, and was indeed the foundation of Hitler’s fundamental belief in the superiority of the Aryan race (granting that Bryan himself was a racist by today’s terms). The textbook that was used by Scopes (who was in reality a substitute teacher who wasn’t even positive that he had taught Darwinism – but was drafted to be a defendant anyway in this show trial), was objected to by Bryan due to its chapter on eugenics.

    Anyhow, fitting this in somewhat with the theme of the blog, one thing that surprised me when reading this book is the fact that Bryant was a huge fan of Tolstoy, and made a pilgrimage to Russia to visit this author who was in his old age. Bryant was quite impressed with Tolstoy’s religion and support of the masses, speaking against inherent evil of the moneyed elites in their abuse of the peasants. Bryan and Tolstoy kept up a correspondence during the remainder of Tolstoy’s life, considering themselves to be soul mates. Tolstoy supported Bryan in his political endeavors, even though Tolstoy, at this point in his life, leaned more toward anarchism. It is said that the only photograph on the wall in the elderly Tolstoy’s bedroom in rural Russia was that of William Jennings Bryan.

    I bring this up because I adore Tolstoy. True, the Tolstoy that Bryan knew and loved was quite different than the Tolstoy that wrote “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” – he went through quite a philosophical and religious metamorphosis in his waning years – but I was surprised and fascinated to learn of their relationship. I never would have suspected this respect they had for each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • William Jennings Bryan and Leo Tolstoy? I had no idea! I read your great comment with my mouth agape, figuratively speaking.

      Sounds like those two had in common being complex men who were hard to categorize. The Bryan biography you read DOES seem like it was terrific.

      You’ve probably seen this, drb19810, but there’s some fascinating footage of Tolstoy shot a couple of years before his 1910 death — undoubtedly around the time he was corresponding with Bryan. Here’s one example:

      While we’re at it, some footage of Bryan from 1896! (He’s shown speaking during the last few seconds.)


      • Thank you so much for the links. I had seen the Tolstoy link before, but I never realized that there was recording of W.J. Bryan, and I was very thrilled to hear it. The biography stressed that Bryan was a well respected orator – almost a superstar orator,

        Also, my apologies for my inconsistent spelling of “Bryan/Bryant”. I know the name is “Bryan”, but my fingers insist on adding a “t” to his name. I don’t know why.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re welcome! He does have a mesmerizing voice that now sounds wonderfully old-fashioned.

          My fingers also tended to write “Bryant” rather than “Bryan,” and I kept deleting the “t.” I’m pretty sure there were/are more Bryants than Bryans in past and present times!


      • The book was very interesting, especially since I knew so little about him. Yes – the book mention that he thought the consequence of the war would be a “great bitterness from which would grow poisonous plants.”. He died in 1925, so he did not witness blooming of the subsequent Fascism. He did however, support the ratification of the treaty, and was disappointed when the Senate did not ratify. He believed, as did Wilson, that the best hope for a permanent peace was the creation of the League of Nations, with the USA taking a leading role. He blamed Wilson’s refusal to compromise for the failure to ratify.

        He was Wilson’s Secretary of State during his first term, and worked tirelessly, but ineffectually, at negotiating peace between the warring European powers. He resigned shortly before Wilson’s reelection, as he disagreed with the administration’s increasing support of the allied powers.

        After the war, he was not really active in politics, except for his moral support for Prohibition and for the amendment granting women’s suffrage. The Scopes trial was literally his last hoorah, and he died less that one week after its conclusion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • So interesting, drb19810. Thank you. Bryan is one of those American notables one doesn’t hear a lot about these days, but he certainly had a several-decades role relating to many major issues in the latter 1800s/early 1900s.


        • I get what you’re aiming at, but fascism, in the form of Mussolini, was in flower and power before Bryan’s 1925 death, a death intimated in some accounts to have been caused in part by too many hours over a Tennessee summer in an alpaca coat.

          “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” Correct. It shall be done via fiat currency.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I stand corrected concerning the timing of the rise of Fascism in Italy. Nothing in the biography addressed any reaction or comments by Bryan on this. He wasn’t particularly engaged in politics at this point. During the latter years of his life, he was very engaged in arguing against Darwinism, and was particularly concerned that acceptance of Darwinism would imply the justification of “survival of the fittest” and argued the immorality of “might makes right”. He did comment that he believed that the European intellectual acceptance of Social Darwinism would inevitably lead to another European bloodbath on an even larger the scale than the First World War, and was further concerned about the scientific breakthroughs with regard to weaponry posed a grave risk to humanity. In his closing speech at the Scopes trial (never delivered, but later published), he stated: “The greatest danger menacing our civilization is the abuse of the achievements of science. Mastery over the forces of nature has endowed the twentieth century man with a power which he is not fit to exercise. Unless the development of morality catches up with the development of technique, humanity is bound to destroy itself.”

            Liked by 1 person

  16. Hemingway has been mentioned several times in these posts. In a 1961 Time Magazine article about J. D. Salinger, it describes a meeting between Hemingway and Salinger during World War II as follows: “In France, Staff Sergeant Salinger had an audience with War Correspondent Ernest Hemingway, who read Salinger’s work and, possibly in appreciation of it (‘Jesus, he has a hell of a talent’), took out his Luger and shot the head off a chicken.” As it turns out, this account has been oft repeated, and even exaggerated, but in fact was a myth (the chicken-shooting part).

    A more accurate account of their meeting was published in the Kansas City Star newspaper by a journalist named McDuffie, shortly after Salinger’s death in 2010, based on letters written by Salinger and by Hemingway, and supported by some eyewitness accounts. Apparently, Salinger and Hemingway did meet on several occasions during World War II. Salinger was a young writer who had had several short stories published in some well- respected literary magazines, and Hemingway was quite a fan of these stories. Salinger wrote to his editor shortly thereafter that he found Hemingway to be quite the opposite of the hard, tough persona implied by his writing. Salinger said that he found Hemingway to be “generous, friendly, and unimpressed by his own reputation.” During their meeting, they discovered that they liked the same authors, and that Hemingway had a great admiration of the works of William Faulkner. (Does anyone know of any Faulkner/Hemingway meetings?) Hemingway was impressed enough to write letters to publishers on behalf of the young, talented Salinger. Even much later, after the publication of “The Catcher in the Rye”, Hemingway relayed how much he liked the book. In fact, an autographed copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” was in Hemingway’s library. He liked this work despite the fact that Holden Caulfield refers to “A Farewell to Arms” as a “phony book”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • VERY interesting comment, drb19810. Thanks!

      The positive Hemingway-Salinger interaction you describe so well surprises me a bit, because those authors seemed so different in their personalities and writing — but, heck, different people often have good relations.

      I’m not a huge fan of either writer, though I like Hemingway’s work more than Salinger’s. If I had a choice of bringing “For Whom the Bell Tolls” or “The Catcher in the Rye” to a desert island, it would be “The Bell Tolls for Salinger’s Novel.” 🙂

      I would be amazed if Faulkner and Hemingway didn’t meet at some point. But I just did a few Google searches, and couldn’t find anything.

      Meanwhile, I was also curious if Faulkner and a young Cormac McCarthy had ever met, but couldn’t find anything, either. McCarthy’s writing echoes Faulkner’s in so many ways — though of course the styles aren’t exactly alike.


  17. Howdy, Dave!

    — Who are other … unrelated authors who encountered each other in some way? —

    If we can consider James Abbott McNeill Whistler the author of his evocative paintings, then I historically have gotten about a zillion laughs out of recalling one of his encounters with Oscar Wilde, which Garson O’Toole beautifully documented on his redoubtable “Quote Investigator” site (, as follows:

    “The earliest evidence [of a quotation attributed to Whistler about Wilde] known to ‘QI’ was published in January 1886 in ‘The Sunday Herald’ of Boston, Massachusetts. … Whistler was planning to visit the United States and conduct a lecture tour. William M. Chase, a friend of Whistler’s, was asked about the content of the forthcoming lectures and responded with caustic words about Oscar Wilde. …:

    “‘“Was his talk on art similar in any respect to Mr. Wilde’s?”

    “‘“Well, as Oscar Wilde cribbed from Whistler almost everything he said in his lecture here about art that was worth saying, there may be some remote resemblance between the two lectures as to their matter, but that is certainly all.”

    “‘Whistler pricked this bubble of Wilde very neatly and epigrammatically at a Paris salon last season presided over by a well known and popular lady. Whistler had been notably witty during the evening and finally made a bon mot more than usually pointed and happy that convulsed his listeners.

    “‘Wilde, who was present, approved Mr. Whistler’s brightness, and wondered why he had not thought of the witticism himself. “You will,” promptly replied Whistler, “you will.” This lightning comment on Mr. Wilde’s wonderful ability to think of other people’s bright things and to repeat them as his own had, you may imagine, an immediate and most discomforting effect on Mr. Wilde.’”

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.J., I loved reading about that Whistler-Oscar Wilde interaction. Fascinating and hilarious!

      Your mention of Wilde reminded me of an article I read this fall about him meeting Walt Whitman during an 1882 lecture tour Oscar had undertaken in the U.S.

      By the way, I’m in the middle of reading Mario Vargas Llosa’s “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.” It’s REALLY good. Thanks for recommending it!


      • — I’m in the middle of reading Mario Vargas Llosa’s “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.” It’s REALLY good. —

        I love many of the novels published in El Sur during the past four decades, but this is the one I would want on a desert island for reading and rereading as long as my eyeglass prescription still works: It cracks me up every time. Of course, it may be more appealing to those of us who are media types than it might be to those of us who are nonmedia types.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” is indeed VERY funny, J.J., while also being pretty intense. A great combination! And I think non-media people would love the novel, too; there seem to be strands (involving Dr. Quinteros, Sgt. Lituma, etc.) having little to do with the radio station at which the narrator works. Of course, I’m still fairly early in the book, so the characters at the radio station may figure more and more prominently. But, still, almost everyone relates to radio! 🙂


          • — A great combination! —

            Speaking of great combinations in the context of your current column, I should have mentioned the combination that in 1976 led Mario Vargas Llosa to blacken the left eye of Gabriel Garcia Marquez during an authorial encounter, presumably involving a right hook. Alas, I do not believe we can go to the video tape for a blow-by-blow description of the bout, but “The New York Times” published a relevant photograph a while ago ( Meanwhile, I think this encounter may mark the only time in history one winner of the Nobel Prize in literature decked another winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well, that has to be one of the most memorable literary “encounters” ever, J.J. — memorably described by you and that New York Times article.

              Hmm…I’m a big fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s work and am now becoming a fan of Mario Vargas Llosas’ writing — is that okay given Llosa’s fisticuffs? 🙂 But, heck, I admired both Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier…

              Two other authors on different sides of the ideological divide had a “fight” with words as they debated in 1965 at Cambridge University. That was James Baldwin and columnist/novelist William F. Buckley Jr. — with Baldwin winning in a verbal knockout.


              • J.J., I just reached a point in “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” where the radio station appoints an editor who’s…illiterate! Perhaps the funniest moment of that novel so far. 🙂


                • — I just reached a point in “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” where the radio station appoints an editor who’s…illiterate! —

                  At the time I became a newspaperman back in the third quarter of the last century of the last millennium, the common feeling in our newsroom was that illiteracy was one of the job requirements for the radio-television folks. However, I immediately recognized this as the canard it was. I mean: If the radio-TV people were illiterate, then how could they read the copy written for them by our reporters (and wire services)?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Ha ha! Great point and comment, J.J.!

                    With print newspapers and traditional wire services not exactly thriving these days, I suppose radio and TV now often get their “news” from the “Internets.”

                    If TV and radio conglomerates didn’t pay certain stars so much (anchors and such), they could perhaps afford a few more reporters. But, then again, the owners would probably just pocket more profits for themselves…


    • The famous Oscar Wilde Walt Whitman meeting in Camden NJ that Dave referenced below was the first to occur to me when I read the week’s topic. Wilde had pretty much done nothing yet but through personality and self promotion had become a celebrity in the current sense of the term. Whitman in his late sixties was well established as America’s bard but was also no stranger to keeping his name in the public spotlight through notoriety and aesthete type posing. Over the years much has been made of their meeting by scholars and those with various social agendas positing that they had sexual relations, not all that implausible to be fair but I like to think they took off their masks and discussed life and art as two of the most interesting and sophisticated artists of their century. I recently saw a piece in perhaps Harpers on this topic and will try to locate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great comment, Donny, and so well said!

        You’re right — definitely a memorable meeting between Wilde and Whitman. So different as writers and people, yet with some significant similarities (their sexuality, their bent for self-promotion, etc.).

        I’m wondering if this was the Wilde-Whitman article we both saw?

        It was certainly news to me when I read it!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I read a Oscar Wilde biography by Richard Ellman a couple of years ago and a Walt Whitman bio this past summer by Justin Kaplan and they both have accounts of the Wilde/Whitman meeting. I think one of them says that Whitman kissed Wilde on the mouth. Of course, as you said, Whitman was no longer young so this may have been more of an affectionate father/son type greeting. I think Whitman sensed a kindred spirit in Wilde.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well, from what you say, bobess48, I can see that The New Republic didn’t “break” that story. 🙂 Those sound like very interesting biographies of two very interesting people. I’ve also read biographies of both writers, but that was long ago.

            One of these Halloweens, I should reread Wilde’s wonderful short story “The Canterville Ghost”!


          • As a senior on my college’s committee of English majors who would accompany lecturers to and from campus, I spent a few hours with Richard Ellman. Much of his conversation with us consisted of tales of persuasion, wherein he somehow got somebody to part with letters or diaries of his subjects of interest– reminded me of the tales antique collectors tell each other

            Liked by 1 person

    • Whistler, as you probably know, had a run-in with another author, a run-in far more famous then than now– Having referred, in print, to Whistler as a coxcomb who had flung a pot of paint in the public’s face, John Ruskin found himself on the wrong end of a libel suit. In court, Whistler managed to get testimony regarding Ruskin’s unconsummated marriage into the public record, and Ruskin was humiliated, and never regained his stature as pre-eminent critic of art. The object of Ruskin’s distaste was Whistler’s show of Nocturnes, those fascinating pieces that anticipate Impressionism. I have never understood why he loathed them with such vehemence, as Ruskin was a tireless promoter and defender of JMW Turner– he was even named executor of Turner’s estate– because the Nocturnes resemble Turner more than any predecessor…

      Whistler was also, like Poe, an unlikely but failed West Pointer. About his final exam, he once remarked: “If silicon had been a gas, I would have been a brigadier”, or something close.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jhNY, I guess creators who create so much drama in their work can create it in their lives, too. The Whistler/Ruskin scenario you so interestingly describe is the kind of stuff today’s “gossip media” would have a field day chronicling.


  18. Hi Dave, as you know I’m a great fan of mysteries and detective fiction, so my first thought was of that genre. Back in 1930, a group of British writers formed the Detection Club, among whose members included Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie, GK Chesterton, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Croft, Simon Brett, and many others that I have enjoyed reading in the past. The first American that was inducted into this club was John Dickson Carr, who was known for his locked room mysteries.

    Speaking of mystery writers, I was saddened to hear last week of the death of P.D. James, one of my favorites. She was 94, but I still hate to think that she won’t be coming out with any new books.

    By the way, I’m having trouble typing this on my tablet, as my laptop is not very accessible — still dealing with the aftereffects of the flood in my home. Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kat Lib, the Detection Club indeed had QUITE a lineup of writers: Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, etc. Thanks for mentioning it! Do you know if P.D. James was associated with the club in any way?

      It was definitely sad to hear of James’ death, though I haven’t read any of her books yet. (I will try one soon.) I saw her obituary in The New York Times this past Friday, and was very interested to learn about her fiction career getting a relatively late start, her philosophy of mystery writing, her World War II experiences, and more.

      When you mentioned the Detection Club of (mostly) British writers, I also thought of the Bloomsbury Group — Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, etc.

      Very sorry that you’re still feeling the aftereffects of the flooding. Thanksgiving season shouldn’t include THAT. 😦


      • Well, much to my surprise, The Detection Club is still apparently in existence. I found a list of members, and P.D. James started in 1972, at which time Christie was serving as honorary president. She was preceded in this position by Sayers. Thanks, Dave, for giving me a reason to do a little research. I didn’t realize how many crime writers were members of this club. Most interesting! I also have a book I read a few years back by James, a nonfiction work, “Talking About Detective Fiction,” which was of course fascinating to me. She wrote quite a bit about Christie and Sayers, but also many others, both classic and modern. I must admit that I haven’t read “Children of Men,” but it will be on my list to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow — that’s a long-running club! Nice research, Kat Lib. 🙂

          Writing is such a solitary profession that it’s great when writers have organizations that enable them to get together. I’m sure the meetings are an interesting amalgam of mutual admiration, competitiveness, and more!

          I plan to finally to take out a novel by P.D. James (and Lee Child) during my next library visit later this month.


  19. What about the members of the “Vicious Circle” or the Algonquin Round Table? In addition to authors, the group was composed of playwrights, critics, composers, and actors. Many of them became famous simply through their association with the group. They were famous for being famous, in an era before reality shows.

    And how about Hemingway in Paris? He met writers such as Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound who “could help a young writer up the rungs of a career”, as Wikipedia put it. I read somewhere that his years in Paris were also the beginning of his dissipation. His friendship with Gertrude Stein didn’t last, but he and Ezra Pound remained fast friends. In fact, Ezra Pound introduced Hemingway to James Joyce.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great additions, Mary! Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and other Round Tablers — and of course Hemingway and his Paris cohorts.

      Thanks for the comment, and all its interesting information! Hemingway did indeed seem to “burn the candle at both ends.”

      Hemingway and Joyce were kind of odd friends in a way — VERY different writing styles, and certainly the former was more “macho” than the latter.


      • Another fun fact that I forgot to mention in my first response. In 1931, 14 members of the club (including Chistie and Sayers) collaborated on a mystery, “The Floating Admiral.” There were 12 chapters, each written by a member consecutively. Anthony Berkeley wrote the last chapter and GK Chesterton wrote the prologue. Each writer had to submit their own solution in a sealed envelope, which were published at the end of the book. I read it years ago, when it was reissued as a paperback with a foreword by Sayers. So, while you’re right about competiveness between writers, these writers were still able to work together, and they probably had a lot of fun doing this. I think the club also published other collaborations as well through the years.

        You mentioned Lee Child, who I haven’t read, but is a favorite of one of my brothers. I still remember how upset he was when Tom Cruise was cast in the role of movie version starring as the character of Jack Reacher.

        P.S. I hope that this isn’t a repeat comment. I had just finished typing my comment when the person most involved in cleaning up my condo announced that the water had gone further into my dining room than formerly was suspected. I guess I haven’t mentioned that I am very fond of Archie comics, especially Betty & Veronica (nostalgia), but as I think they usually say, “Gak!!!”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kat Lib, thanks for the mention of that 14-person novel collaboration! I didn’t know about it. Did you find it to be a decent book when you read it years ago? Sounds like a fascinating project, but it’s hard to imagine it being a great, coherent book with all those disparate contributors. I find that even novels written by only two people — such as “The Gilded Age” by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner — suffer from “too many cooks spoil the broth” syndrome. Fiction writing is such as individualistic thing.

          Several commenters — including bebe and jhNY — recommended Lee Child in this comments area a while ago, so I want to try his work. I believe they also weren’t happy with Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, partly because Cruise is so much shorter than the fictional Jack.

          I’ve read some Archie comics, and that Archie/Betty/Veronica triangle has become practically legendary! 🙂

          Good luck with that miserable water situation.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Dave…agreed Ton Cruise was not the best choice..but it is better to accept that because he bought the movie rights as I`v mentioned before. And another one is in production. BTW…Liam Neeson would be fantastic but too old for the role. Actually he is built just right as Jack Reacher.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hear you, bebe. Sometimes it’s better for a movie to be made, even with a not-entirely-appropriate-for-the-role star, than not made at all.

              Sounds like lulabelleharris’ suggestion of Liam Neeson as Jack Reacher was a great one, except for his age. Neeson IS a big guy, and an excellent actor. Too bad he was too old for the role. Of course, he wouldn’t have been the first older guy playing a somewhat younger man in sexist Hollywood!

              I look forward to finally reading a Lee Child book, hopefully later this month.

              Liked by 1 person

        • I agree with your brother on the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher!!! I’ve had an immense crush on Jack Reacher for years and Tom Cruise just doesn’t do it for me. They couldn’t have made a more ridiculous choice. MAYBE Liam Neeson???

          Liked by 1 person

  20. George Lewes (critic, playwright and longtime George Eliot lover) had a year-long public feud with his friend Charles Dickens over the use of the spontaneous combustion of a character in Bleak House. When the novel serialization was complete, they reconciled and dropped the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did not know that, John! How interesting.

      Glad you mentioned George Henry Lewes because, from what I’ve read, he and George Eliot had an incredibly loving and successful relationship for a quarter century until he died. Especially interesting in those patriarchal times because, though Lewes was an excellent writer, Eliot outshone him as an all-time-great writer.

      Thanks for your terrific comment!


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