They didn’t get together because they were important.
They became important because they got together.

The Bloomsbury Group:
Although the works of individuals in this group profoundly influenced literature, economics and aesthetics in western society and altered modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality, they had no real agenda other than enjoying one another’s company. The group had ten core members and twenty occasionals. A few of the more well-known core members were Virginia Woolf, a fiction writer, Lytton Strachey, a biographer, John Maynard Keynes, the economist, and Vanessa Bell, a post-impressionist painter. They were called the Bloomsbury Group because they met in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London. (1905 – 1937)

The Inklings: “Oh God, no more Elves!” Hugo Dyson groans in agony, lolling on the couch. J.R.R. “Tollers” Tolkien is about read from his work-in-progress, The Lord of the Rings. “It’s bad enough listening to (C.S.) Lewis read about Narnia!” Hugo Dyson prefers the works of Shakespeare and in the early 1960s hosted some televised lectures and plays about him. The Inklings were a group of ten interesting people who met at The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford. The group called it “The Bird and Baby.” (1932 – 1949)

  • Eagle_Beagle_380J.R.R. Tolkien
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Owen Barfield
  • Charles Williams
  • Adam Fox
  • Hugo Dyson
  • Robert Havard
  • Nevill Coghill
  • Roger Lancelyn Green
  • A.W. Bennett
  • Lord David Cecil
  • Christopher Tolkien
  • Warren “Warnie” Lewis

BogieAndBacall_RatPackThe Rat Pack: It all began when Lauren Bacall looked at a group of friends sitting around her living room and said, “You look like a goddam Rat Pack.” Did you know that Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop weren’t in the original Rat Pack? The first Pack was a group who got together each week in the home of Lauren Bacall and her husband, Humphrey Bogart. The Rat Pack included Bogart and Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, David Niven, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, Sid Luft and Swifty Lazar. Visiting members included Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney, Jerry Lewis and Cesar Romero. The group broke up when Bogart died in 1957. Shortly thereafter, Sinatra began his famous “Rat Pack 2.0”

MallarmeAndRenoir_390The Tuesday Group (Les Mardistes) of Stéphane Mallarmé included writers like André Gide, Paul Valéry, Oscar Wilde, Paul Verlaine, Rainer Maria Rilke and W.B. Yeats, along with painters like Renoir, Manet, Degas, Redon, and Whistler. Also to be found among them was the quintessential sculptor, Rodin. Everyone in Paris who knew about the Tuesday Group in the home of Mallarmé, came. Mallarmé’s language experiments were to poetry what Impressionism was to painting. Indeed, his most intimate friends were the world’s greatest impressionist painters. But Marcel Proust said of him, “How unfortunate that so gifted a man should become insane every time he takes up the pen.” (1880 – 1897)

The Algonquin Round Table was a self-selected group of writers, editors, actors, and publicists – about 30 in all – that met for lunch on a regular basis at the Algonquin Hotel a block from Times Square. (1919 – 1929)
Original members of the Algonquin Round Table included:

  • Algonquin_Round_Table_390Franklin Pierce Adams, columnist
  • Robert Benchley, humorist
  • Heywood Broun, sportswriter
  • Marc Connelly, playwright
  • Ruth Hale, women’s rights
  • George S. Kaufman, playwright
  • Dorothy Parker, critic, poet
  • Brock Pemberton, Broadway
  • Harold Ross, The New Yorker
  • Robert E. Sherwood, author
  • John Peter Toohey, publicist
  • Alexander Woollcott, journalist
    Later added to the group were:
  • Tallulah Bankhead, actress
  • Noël Coward, playwright
  • Blyth Daly, actress
  • Edna Ferber, author and playwright
  • Eva Le Gallienne, actress
  • Margalo Gillmore, actress
  • Jane Grant, journalist and feminist (married to Ross)
  • Beatrice Kaufman, editor and playwright (married to George S. Kaufman)
  • Margaret Leech, writer and historian
  • Neysa McMein, magazine illustrator
  • Harpo Marx, comedian and film star
  • Alice Duer Miller, writer
  • Donald Ogden Stewart, playwright and screenwriter
  • Frank Sullivan, journalist and humorist
  • Deems Taylor, composer
  • Estelle Winwood, actress and comedienne
  • Peggy Wood, actress

Picasso_Stein_350The Salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas on Saturday evenings in Paris (1913 – 1939) brought together confluences of talent and thinking that would help define modernism in literature and art. According to Stein, the gatherings began by accident when,

“more and more frequently, people began visiting to see the Matisse paintings—and the Cézannes. Matisse brought people, everybody brought somebody, and they came at any time and it began to be a nuisance, and it was in this way that Saturday evenings began.”
(Interestingly, this is also why Pennie Williams launched Wizard Academy.)

Self-selected insiders included:
Pablo Picasso,
Henri Matisse,
Ernest Hemingway,
F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Sinclair Lewis,
Guillaume Apollinaire,
Georges Braque,
Thornton Wilder,
Sherwood Anderson,
Francis Cyril Rose,
René Crevel,
Élisabeth de Gramont,
Francis Picabia,
Claribel Cone,
Mildred Aldrich
Carl Van Vechten.

* The movie Midnight in Paris is about the Salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas.