Bertolt Brecht

Bertold Brecht;Berthold Brecht

1898 (Augsburg, Germany) – 1956 (Berlin)

Feuchtwanger was a friend and mentor to Brecht, who sharpened his teeth in Reinhardt’s and Piscator’s theatres. Eisler (a lifelong friend) and Weill were among his most celebrated collaborators. Heartfield acknowledged his longtime friend’s influence, while Herzfelde published his work, and joined in setting up an anti-fascist publishing house in New York. Hindemith collaborated and quarreled with him, Grosz and Döblin were friends, Lenya one of his performers, Tretyakov a translator and populariser of his work, and Chaplin and Auden among those he met in America. Weigel married him, and ran the Berliner Ensemble after his death.

Barbara Guest

1920 (Wilmington, N.C.) – 2006 (Berkeley, Calif.)

Miller suggested she move to New York (bedbugs and all). O’Hara was a particularly close and supportive friend among the poets of the so-called New York School; Schuyler, Ashbery and Koch were other friends on this scene. Both Schuyler and O’Hara had been met while she was writing for Art News. H. D. (Doolittle) became the subject of a much-praised biography, after they’d met at a party — Guest’s husband however had known her much better. Frankenthaler, Hartigan and Brainard were all friends and collaborators (she was strongly drawn to Hartigan’s painting). Riding commented on the sense of ease she created.

Allen Ginsberg

Allan Ginsberg;Alan Ginsberg;Allen Ginsburg

1926 (Newark, N.J.) – 1997 (New York)

He met Burroughs and Kerouac while at university. Williams was his mentor, and introduced him to Rexroth who introduced him to Snyder. Ginsberg, Corso and Burroughs lived in the so-called Beat Hotel in Paris; he helped Burroughs (with whom he had a brief intense affair) with the structure of ‘Naked Lunch’. He met Duchamp, Ray, Péret, Tzara and Céline at this time. Ferlinghetti published him, Bateson asked him to help in LSD research, Dylan paid for a tape-recorder, and Glass collaborated on an opera. Škvorecky invited him to be May King in Prague, Yevtushenko met him in Moscow, and Rushdie meditated with him.

Alexander Pope

1688 (London) – 1744 (Twickenham)

Both Wycherley and Congreve encouraged the young Pope in his career. Swift and Gay, both long and close friends, formed the Scriblerus Club with him and Arbuthnot, and were among the few literary contemporaries he did not attack; he helped Swift with publication of ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ He was infatuated with Montagu, sending her letters across Europe, and after being rebuffed, publicly turned on her. Writing to Sloane about the grotto he’d had built beneath his house, he got some basalt in return. Voltaire visited him in Twickenham (as did Montesquieu), and lavished praise on his ‘Essay on Man.’

Albert Ehrenstein

1886 (Vienna) – 1950 (New York)

He got his friend Kokoschka (who illustrated his best-known work) out of wartime military service. Richter, Janco and Tzara were Zürich Dada colleagues. Kafka and he had a jaunty fairground photo taken, looking as if in a wood-and-canvas monoplane. Kraus was the first to publish him, and said that he left “an agreeable stench of brimstone.” Brecht and Döblin founded a left-wing writers’ group with him. He met Walden through Kokoschka, and connected or reconnected with Huelsenbeck, Grosz and Mann in New York exile. Most of his writer friends, like Ehrenstein, had their books publicly burned by the Nazis.

Albert Ehrenstein knew…