All About Yaddo

From the New York Times an article about a forthcoming exhibition at the NYPL on the artists' retreat, Yaddo.

In 1899 Katrina Trask, desolate over the death of their four children, proposed to her husband, Spencer, that they turn Yaddo, their 400-acre estate outside Saratoga Springs, N.Y., into an artists’ retreat. He was a baron of the Gilded Age. She was a pre-Raphaelite figure who wore gauzy white dresses and wrote poetry about the days of King Arthur, and she imagined the place as a perpetual house party of writers, artists and musicians.

There was writing, there was painting and composing, but it sounds like there more than a bit of sleeping around too. Among other choice tidbits from the article..."John Cheever used to boast that he had enjoyed sex on every flat surface in the mansion, not to mention the garden and the fields. It was at Yaddo that Newton Arvin, a literary critic and professor at Smith College, met and began a long affair with the young Truman Capote, or “Precious Spooky,” as he calls him in a couple of charming letters, on display at the library. The novelist Henry Roth met his wife, the composer Muriel Parker, there, and the novelist Josephine Herbst started enduring relationships with the painter Marion Greenwood and the poet Jean Garrigue (who was also having an affair with another Yaddo resident, Alfred Kazin).

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