Greenwich Village in the teens was a forward-thinking place, populated by artists and writers, anarchists and free-love practitioners, labor leaders and birth-control proponents. Bringing them together each week in her apartment at 23 Fifth Avenue was 33-year-old Mabel Dodge.
Was she really interested in new ideas, or just a celebrity hound? It’s hard to say; she simply proclaimed that she “wanted to know everybody.”
In New York, now divorced, Mabel decided to gather the city’s “movers and shakers” together during weekly salons, where ideas could be presented and debated.
Mabel’s salons were legendary. Anarchist Emma Goldman talked to poet Edward Arlington Robinson, while Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger chatted up artist Alfred Stieglitz.
Writer John Reed, who later became her lover, also was a regular. She held nights devoted to “dangerous characters,” “sex antagonism,” and “evenings of art and unrest.”
The salons came to and end after a few years. Mabel wrote for various publications and put out her memoirs in the 1930s. By then she was living in Taos, New Mexico, with her fourth husband. She died there in 1962.