In the 1960s, the girl was Elizabeth Taylor (she was never called Elizabeth), and the boy was Charlie Wilson (in his teens.)
It was also, it seemed, during those years, that more and more men got up at 5:30 p.m. to visit the New York Public Library, where they often had the pleasure of meeting a variety of the most famous female writers.
Among the most famous of writers from the ’20s who met the library’s staff were James Joyce, who was then an 18-year-old undergraduate at Boston University, Margaret Mitchell, whose fiction earned her the 1939 Pulitzer Prize, and Edith Wharton, who went on to become a professor of English literature at Harvard, author of numerous books and plays, as well as the “Catch-22” mystery novels about American spies called “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.”
In fact, it was in the months of July and August of that year, in what was called the “New York Literary Festival,” that a young Englishman named E.M. Forster met a collection of the most famous women of the decade, among them: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austen, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emily Brontë and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The New York Literary Festival was held in July and August of 1910, in the very center of the cultural heartland of the twentieth century.
It would later be recalled in recent years as the “Birthplace of the Twentieth Century” when its annual festival was honored with the title of “America’s Great Books Festival.” That title, and its association, is worth mentioning here in relation to the story told here about the library’s favorite flapper of the decade.
The first and perhaps only public performance of the flapper, who, as it turns out, was neither one (nor two) but three flappers in one, was at the New York Public Library’s summer stage in August 1910, when Booker Munson was there to sing at the opening night of the festival.
“I always had a great fear in my youth of losing my voice,” the performer told The New York Times. “But now I feel quite sure that I shall be able to enjoy this performance.”
By this time, the flapper was already well known and admired, a fact which was in no small part due to the way she used her flappers to give the
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