Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Drawing-Room of Their Own from The New York Times
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[. . . ] The Causeries du Lundi - the name, which means Monday chatterings, was taken from Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve's weekly literary column in a 19th-century Parisian newspaper - is one of the oldest women's literary societies in the country. It is both a relic of a vanishing New York and a poignant reflection of the lives women have led over the past century and a quarter.

Nearly continuously for 125 years, this extremely private and exclusive group has gathered at a member's home almost always on the first Monday of every month during the New York social season, from November to May, to read aloud essays that members have written on topics that interest them. [. . . ]

The surnames of early Causeries members read like a Baedeker of Edith Wharton's New York: Roosevelt, Delafield, Lefferts, Huntington, Van Cortlandt, Beekman, Van Rensselaer. One story passed down through the years is that many early members were wives of men who had helped found the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wanted something to do for themselves.

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