Thursday, May 30, 2013

Juan Ramón Jiménez

Juan Ramón Jiménez
The great Nobel prize-winning Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez died on this date in 1958, while living in exile in Puerto Rico. He and Zenobia Camprubí Aymar, his writer, translator wife, lived in DC and the College Park area of Maryland for a number of pivotal years in the 1940s and 50s. 

It was a long journey of exile and loss and longing for him and Zenobia. Their writing and diaries bear it out. 

You can see their homes in the DC area here:

Friday, May 10, 2013


After 9 months of arduous research in books, online and local archives, countless hours of photo-documenting around the Washington area, and more hours of website design, we're happy to announce the next HUMONGOUS update to the DC Writers Homes website.

We've DOUBLED the number of historic DC Authors documented on the site to 203!  Among the new entries there are writers from a huge swath of the city's history.

Famous writers such as: Tallulah BankheadArt BuchwaldKatherine GrahamUlysses S. Grant, and Alice Roosevelt Longworth are featured.

Lesser known gems include:
  • Josiah Henson, whose memoir was the inspiration for Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • proto-graphic novelist Don Marquis(whose house by all rights should not have survived between massive high-rises)
  • Helen Churchill Candee, Titanic survivor and World War I nurse to Ernest Hemingway
  • Spy ring breaker and Bambi translator Whittaker Chambers
We also document more recent literary losses including Maxine CombsCarlos FuentesLarry L. KingAnne TruittGore Vidal and Reed Whittemore.

In addition you'll find new neighborhood pages (where ten or more writers once resided) for Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Lafayette Square, Shaw/Logan Circle, and U Street/Striver's Section neighborhoods!

We've also added new categories for writers who were diplomats, musicians, composers, translators, visual artists and spies!

Enjoy and Share the Good News!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fitzgerald in Washington

Ever since we inaugurated the DC Writers website in 2011, we've received regular queries about including the iconic American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The "Lost Generation" author of Tender Is the Night, The Beautiful and the Damned, and The Great Gatsby certainly had some great connections to the Washington, DC area, but falls outside of our requirements for inclusion.  He never lived in the area.

But with the forthcoming release of the fifth The Great Gatsby film (the novel was previously adapted in 1926, 1949, 1974 and 2000), we thought it a good excuse to highlight a few of Fitzgerald's connections to the capital area.

The famed golfer and socialite Edith Cummings was a longtime DC resident who was lauded for her philanthropic contributions.  The first woman athlete to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, Cummings met Fitzgerald at Princeton when he was dating her friend Ginevra King.

Fitzgerald later immortalized King as Daisy Buchanan and Cummings as the character Jordan Baker.  In the upcoming Baz Luhrman-directed blockbuster, the Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki portrays the Cummings-inspired character.  Cummings's beautiful residence at 1808 New Hampshire Avenue, where she lived with the wealthy businessman Curtis Munson, now serves as a bed and breakfast in Dupont Circle.

While visiting DC, Fitzgerald was known to lodge at The Cairo Hotel at 1615 Q Street NW.  The city's first "residential skyscraper" is about four blocks south of the Cummings house.  We don't know what room he lodged in.  In any case, The Cairo is now a residential condominium and sadly was stripped of all its interior architectural details in a previous (lamentable) renovation.  The exterior is still pretty stunning and would certainly make a spectacular backdrop for any cinematic Jazz-age movie.  

Our hard and fast rule on the site is that authors had to have lived in a place long enough to receive mail -- usually we require a year in one place.  So The Cairo doesn't qualify Fitzgerald for inclusion.

Fitzgerald's wife Zelda Fitzgerald is known to have been a patient at Johns Hopkins in nearby Baltimore, and wrote her autobiographical novel Save Me the Waltz while a patient at the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital (Sanitarium) in nearby Towson, Maryland.

The Washington-area site with the strongest connection to Fitzgerald was also his final one.  Fitzgerald is buried here.  Although originally buried in Rockville's Union Cemetery, Fitzgerald's body was moved, (along with his wife Zelda's) to Saint Mary's Cemetery in Rockvile in 1975.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

University Park's James M. Cain in the News

In today's Washington Post (link) there's a review of the final novel of James M. Cain, finally published 35 years after his death. Cain is the author of Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Mildred Pierce, among other novels. 

The new novel is called The Cocktail Waitress. Cain wrote it while living in University Park, MD.  

Visit our page on the Cain house in University Park on the DC Writers website here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Floyd Dell

Floyd Dell
Happy birthday to Floyd Dell! The novelist, playwright, memoirist, and poet, was born on this date in 1887.  We have documented two of his homes, in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in DC and Bethesda, MD.

Dell’s family still lives in the area, and we are indebted to them for permission to reprint the following lovely poem.


Ingleside Terrace is shaped like a bow.
An arrow shot forth will fly due north.
Over the tree-tops it would go,
And the winding drives of the park below,
And fall I know not where, but yet

Perhaps in the Fourth Alphabet.

Ingleside Terrace, my dear companion,
Lies on the edge, the very ledge
Of the Park’s vast and fertile canyon;

Outside out tiny urban arc,
Immense and straggling Rock Creek Park
(Right across our narrow alley)

Dips into its deep green valley.

From our back porches can be seen
(If we reside upon that side)
In summer only a sea of green;
And on our slumbers, all night through,
Waves of coolness, sweet with dew,
Pour from those green depths: we pity
Those who live elsewhere in our city.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcome to the new DC Writers' Homes blog!

Kim Roberts & Dan Vera. Photo by Marvin Joseph/Washington Poet.
Taken near one of Langston Hughes's DC homes, November 2011.
This blog will announce DC Writers' birthdays, updates to our web exhibit DC Writers' Homes, and detail upcoming events with editors Kim Roberts and Dan Vera. We also hope this blog will add nuance, depth and humor to the companion web exhibit.  Welcome!