Americans in France
Americans in France #4
GERSHWIN, George (1898-1937)
Composer and pianist, born in Brooklyn, NY
In March 1928, George Gershwin, accompanied by his brother Ira and their wives, took a large suite in the Hôtel Majestic, avenue Kléber (16th), where Gershwin continued working on An American in Paris. The work was clearly inspired by the city. One morning, Gershwin, accompanied by composer Alexander Tansman, walked from the Hôtel Majestic up to the Etoile and crossed over to the Avenue de la Grande Armée. There they found stores which sold automobile spare parts, and purchased taxi cab horns to get the traffic sound of the Place de la Concorde during the rush hour. His hotel suite became a personal recital hall, where he played for Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Serge Prokoviev, Leopold Strokowski, William Walton and whoever else dropped in.
HEMINGWAY, Ernest (1899-1961)
Writer, born in Oak Parks, IL
In 1921, Hemingway, still unknown and an aspiring journalist, moved to Paris with his wife Hadley, writing articles for the Toronto Star. He soon associated with other such American expatriate writers as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Francis Scott Fitzgerald. La Closerie des Lilas in Montparnasse was his favorite café-restaurant. It was at this café that Fitzgerald, in the spring of 1925, gave him a copy of his novel The Great Gatsby, which had just been published. It was also on this terrace that Hemingway wrote most of The Sun Also Rises (1926), which he finished in six weeks. The novel deals with a group of expatriates in France and Spain, members of the disillusioned post-World War I Lost Generation. During his stay in France, Hemingway made two trips to Spain, on the second to see bullfights at Pamplona's annual festival. In 1927, Hemingway returned to the United States. He recalled his Paris memories in A Moveable Feast (published in 1964). En 1950, he wrote to a friend: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
HIMES, Chester (1909-1984)
Writer, born in Jefferson City, MO
Born into a middle-class academic family, Himes started his literary career writing for newspapers and magazines while serving eight years in the Ohio State Penitentiary for armed robbery. His first novel was published in 1945. Although largely ignored in the United States, Himes was well thought of overseas. Following Richard Wright’s example, he emigrated to Paris in 1953, becoming part of the group of black expat American writers that also included Wright and James Baldwin. Starting in 1957 with For Love of Imabelle (aka A Rage in Harlem), he wrote a succession of commercially popular detective novels, published in the famous “Serie Noire” black crime fiction line. In 1969 he moved to Spain, where he died in 1984.
JAMES, Henry (1843-1916)
Writer, born in New York City, NY
Born to wealthy parents who periodically lived in Europe, Henry James was educated at schools and by tutors in New York City, London, Paris and Geneva. In 1872, James decided to settle permanently in Europe, spending 1875 and 1876 in France. In Paris he was reunited with friend Edith Wharton and met Turgenev, Flaubert, Zola, Daudet, Maupassant. He was a contributor to the New York Tribune, and finished his novel The American (published in 1877). He left France for England in 1876. In 1884 he published A Little Tour in France.
JONES, James (1921-1977)
Writer, born in Robinson, IL
Internationally famous for his novel From Here to Eternity (1951), which was based on his war experiences, James Jones lived with his family at 10, quai d’Orléans (4th) from 1958 until 1975. The house became a meeting place for writers and artists. There he wrote part of the script for the film The Longest Day (released in 1962) with friend Romain Gary, as well as novels The Thin Red Line (1962), and The Merry Month of May (1971), which is based on his accounts of the May 1968 uprisings. In 1990, his daughter Kaylie Jones recalled the family’s expatriate years in Paris in her autobiographical novel A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries.