NEW YORK—A new collection of works written by members of the fabled Algonquin Round Table brings the Roaring Twenties bursting forth to a new generation of readers. For the first time ever, the writers of the “Vicious Circle” are together in one collection, just in time to mark the 90th anniversary of their launch in 1919.
THE LOST ALGONQUIN ROUND TABLE, published by iUniverse and Donald Books, contains 50 pieces written by the Round Table, the legendary group of writers and critics that met at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. This new collection presents—for the first time—many pieces from family collections and long-lost periodicals. Nat Benchley, grandson of Robert Benchley, and Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker’s New York, edited the book. Unearthed from dusty bookcases, public troves and dark recesses:
• Humor pieces by Robert Benchley, Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun, Frank Sullivan and Donald Ogden Stewart.
• Criticism from Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood.
• Short fiction by Laurence Stallings and Pulitzer Prize-winners Edna Ferber and Margaret Leech.
• Journalism from Alexander Woollcott, Ruth Hale and Deems Taylor.
• Poetry by Adams, Marc Connelly, Dorothy Parker and John V. A. Weaver.
THE LOST ALGONQUIN ROUND TABLE is a rich compendium of the writings that made the group famous, before their japes and bon mots were collected and anthologized. Here, under one cover, are many of the pieces that brought the members of the famous salon to the public’s attention. The collection offers ample evidence of why the group was so revered.
“In today’s celebrity-mad culture, attention paid to writers is not unusual; but in 1919 it was a new form of entertainment,” Benchley said. “For a time, the group was more famous for how they behaved than what they did. But the truth of the Algonquin Round Table has always been that they were an immensely talented and productive group of playwrights, authors, poets, critics, journalists and speech writers who just happened to relish each other’s company. Their witticisms have been anthologized for decades, almost to the extent that the original reasons for their fame have been eclipsed.”
To set the record straight, and to offer up some forgotten or never-before-seen evidence of the group’s talents, the editors spent years searching for material. Not focusing on the humor—but not eschewing it either—they have pulled together a remarkable collection of writings which will highlight the literary skills of the famous lunch partners.
“It has been an immense pleasure to collect these pieces for new readers to enjoy,” Fitzpatrick said. “The stories, poems and articles we are presenting capture the essence of the era in which they were written, and are just as interesting today as when they were composed decades ago. It is also an important book for fans of the group that think they know it well; because we have several gems which have never been published before.”
THE LOST ALGONQUIN ROUND TABLE is available as a perfect bound soft-cover, hardcover and as an e-book. The droll cover art is by the veteran New Yorker cartoonist, Jack Ziegler.