Among the Bohemians by Virginia Nicholson (daughter of Quentin Bell, writer; granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, painter; grand-niece of Virginia Woolf, writer). This is a wonderful book as it explores the real life of the people who chose to live outside of society from 1900 to 1939. I've long been interested in the likes of Dylan Thomas, of Roger Fry, Rebeca West, of artists and writers in Parisian garrets, living on canned sardines and free love. And Nicholson does it wonderfully. She divides the book up into very curious chapters - the first on money (or the dreadful lack of it) and others on love and sex, the children of Bohemia, the household details, cleaning (or the dreadful lack of it), clothing, travel et al. It was a delight and just amusing enough to not be too bothersome to a fluish mind.
Although these folks did what we hippies did to a great extent - only earlier and without bell bottoms - the women had one thing going against them. Nearly all middle class types at that time had servants, but the Bohemians eschewed such things. And guess who took up the slack (imagine a question mark here as I've lost those to the virus). Here is Katherine Mansfield complaining about being a skivvy to John Middleton Murry, when what she wants to do is to get at her writing:
I hate hate hate doing these things that you accept just as all men accept of their women...I walk about with a mind full of ghosts of saucepans and primus stoves and 'Will there be enough to go round'...and you calling (whatever I am doing) 'Tig, isn't there going to be tea It's five o'clock' as though I were a dilatory housemaid.Was it, I wonder (question mark) Or was it just that old thing (question mark) You know. That same old thing. I'm blessed, absolutely blessed. I have a guy who does as much as I do about the house, who cooks and washes floors and is sweet to boot (well, not sweet to boot, you know what I mean - really should get a handle on these commas!). And still...and still the cheese wrappers are out and the compost needs to be emptied and well, we have NO servants. Do you all remember that song by Neil Young 'a man needs a maid' QUESTION MARK Maybe it is that writers and artists and other worthy bohemians need a maid, or a manservant (nudge nudge Tartlette) who will take care of thingies while we work.
I loathe myself, today. I detest this woman who 'superintends' you and rushes about, slamming doors and slopping water - all untidy with her blouse out and her nails grimed. I am disgusted and repelled by the creature that shouts at you, 'You might at least empty the pail and wash out the tea-leaves!' Yes, no wonder you 'come over silent'.
....All the fault of money, I suppose.
I know I do. Just for a week or two. Or I need a place where nothing much happens, no kids, dogs, chicks, or men. Just writer nuns like I aspire to be. And question marks would be nice too, not that I'm complaining mind you.