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.