Sunday, October 29, 2006

Literary Salons in Old New York-A Contradiction of Terms?

Even though some of America's best writers, artists, and architects were born in, or lived in, New York City, there was an unstated rule of conduct that conversations and gatherings were solely for social purposes. Edith Wharton, who had happily discovered the Literary Salons of Paris, was extremely disappointed with New York society's artistic indifference. She eventually moved to France permanently. August literary gatherings were held for a number of years at the home of Wharton's sister-in-law, Mary Cadwalader Jones, at 21 East 11th Street (pictured). Henry James, F. Marion Crawford, John LaFarge, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent and Henry Adams spent many pleasant hours in "Mary Cadwal's" parlor. It was not until the closing years of the nineteenth century that artistic gatherings gained widespread recognition.

Photo: New-York Historical Society

References: Patterson, Jerry E. "The First Four Hundred." New York: Rizzoli, 2000.

Bell, Millicent. "Edith Wharton & Henry James." New York: George Braziller, 1965.