||In the early 1940s, the house at 7 Middagh Avenue near the Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn became the communal residence of many literary lights, including W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Paul and Jane Bowles, and Carson McCullers, as well as the composer Benjamin Britten and the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Amid the boozing and the occasional flareup of animosity, friendship flourished and much good work was done there, including the writing of BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE and PETER GRIMES. The house that Paul Bowles said provided "a comforting facsimile of family life" was demolished in 1945.
||The author chronicles a hitherto unknown chapter in both literary history and communal living--the experiment in communalism undertaken by Carson McCullers, Benjamin Britten, W. H. Auden, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Jane and Paul Bowles. Reader's Guide available. Reprint.
|Editors Note 2
||The story of an extraordinary experiment in communal living, one involving young but already iconic writers--and the country's best-known burlesque performer--in a house in Brooklyn during 1940 and 1941. It was a fevered yearlong party fueled by the appetites of youth and by the shared sense of urgency to take action as artists in the months before America entered the war. In spite of the sheer intensity, the house was for its residents a creative crucible. Carson McCullers's two masterpieces, The Memberof the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, were born here. Gypsy Rose Lee, workmanlike by day, party girl by night, wrote her book The G-String Murders in her bedroom. W. H. Auden, who along with Benjamin Britten was being excoriated at home in England for absenting himself from the war, presided over the house like a peevish auntie, collecting rent money and dispensing romantic advice. And yet all the while he was composing some of the most important work of his career.