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So I'm attempting to write a piece on historical literary clubs in the past. The idea of the essay is going to be supporting the proposition that writers and thinkers can often achieve their best work, not as loners, but by being spurred on by each other. Ophelia Field mentions this in her book, The Kit-Cat Club, when she writes "... a group biography is an apt form for a book about the Kit-Cats: they believed creative forces came from the 'commerce' or 'intercourse' between men's minds, as opposed to later beliefs in subconscious, individual sources of creativity. They believed that their Club was more, in other words, than the sum of its parts." So I'm trying to take note of all the most famous clubs (or even looser associations) in literary or philosophical history. So far I have: Name: The Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen Place for drinking & discussion: The Mermaid Tavern Approximate Time: 1603-1640 Participants: Sir Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, Ben Johson, John Fletcher, Francis Beaumont, John Donne, William Strachey, etc. Name: The Kit-Cat Club Place for drinking & discussion: The Cat and Fiddle Tavern Approximate Time: 1680s-1730s Participants: Jacob Tonson, John Somers, William Congreve, John Vanbrugh, Charles Sackville - 6th Earl of Dorset, Matthew Prior, George Stepney, Charles Montagu, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Sir Robert Walpole, etc. Name: "The Club" Place for drinking & discussion: the Turk's Head Inn Approximate Time: 1764-late 1800s Participants: Dr. Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Joshua Reynolds, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, Samuel Dyer, Thomas Percy, Charles Fox, George Fordyce, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, etc. Name: "The Inklings" Place for drinking & discussion: The Eagle and Child Pub Approximate Time: 1930s-1940s Participants: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, Warren Lewis, Roger Lancelyn Green Does anyone else know of any others? It doesn't have to be formally organized. Come to think of it, 1920s Paris probably has another one, for all intents and purposes, loosely including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett and perhaps T.S. Eliot. I read Humphrey Carpenter's Inklings years ago (and still have it). I'm currently reading Ophelia Field's The Kit-Cat Club. Any other information on something I'm missing or any other suggested books?
Weirdly enough, just the other day I was bemoaning the fact that there aren't really any fantastically trashy treatments of major figures in US history. The Tudors, the Borgias, even Kublai Khan have all had their turn, but the US seems to be locked out of the market. The Kennedys could have been an in, but it was a bit of a damp squib. Well, coming from the History Channel this very month, here's Sons of Liberty. Starring Ben Barnes as Sam Adams, Henry Thomas as John Adams, Dean Norris as Benjamin Franklin, Rafe Spall as John Hancock, and so on. Trailers below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfMW2icxVlo --it ain't John Adams (which I'm watching now and enjoying) by a long shot. But it's so darn rock n' roll. Let's say it's Spartacus to the other series' Rome.
An interview. The Devil in the White City never really clicked for me--it was two parallel stories that never really merged for me. In The Garden of the Beasts on the other hand was hard to put down. I haven't read any of his others--but, maybe, some day....