The Murphy's

Gerald and Sara Murphy on La Garoupe beach, Antibes, c. Summer 1926

dancing on the beach in East Hampton, NY c.1915

Sara and her famous pearls.  She was never seen in a swimsuit with the pearls draped down her back (stylish yes, but just imagine the tanline that must leave!).

Gerald and Sara Murphy. Probably one of the most stylish couple of the 20th century. But it's quite possible you have never heard of them as they weren't exactly famous themselves. In the last several books I've read, Zelda by Nancy Mitford and What Fresh Hell Is This?, by Marion Meade, I noticed the Murphys' names mentioned over and over in different anecdotes involving the "Lost Generation". Then I came across this book at a yard sale, Everybody was So Young, a biography of the couple in their heyday. Of course I scooped it up right away so I could read more.
It turns out they were not only friends with Dorothy Parker and the Fitzgerald's, but with everyone from Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and Cole Porter, to name just a few. "Once upon a time there was a prince and a princess" wrote a  Donald Ogden Stewart, upon meeting the Muphys and being completely taken with the couple. He went on to gush, "That’s exactly how a description of the Murphy's should begin. They were both rich; he was handsome; she was beautiful; they had three golden children. They loved each other, they enjoyed their own company, and they had the gift of making life enchantingly pleasurable for those who were fortunate enough to be their friends.”

Gerald and Sara (on the left) in Pamplona, Spain with Hemingway, his lover Pauline (on Ernest's left,) and his soon to be ex-wife Hadley, sitting on his right.

Sara and Gerald dressed up for a costume ball. photo by Man Ray, c. 1924

Gerald Murphy, Ginny Carpenter, Cole Porter and Sara Murphy in Venice, c. 1923

with Ernest Hemingway on his ranch in Wyoming, c. 1932

on the beach in Antibes with Dorothy Parker and company, c. 1920s
Not only were Sara and gerald beautiful people, but they were completely enamored with the beauty they found in life -- complete  aesthetes known for their unmatched hospitality, opening their home in Cap d' Antibes to friends all year round, and throwing lavish parties where every small detail was thought out.  They were immortalized in print as  the couple "Nicole and Nick Diver" in Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, and in Hemingway's, "the Snows of Kilimanjaro."

Way ahead of their time, the Murphy's  loved collecting flea market finds mixed with modern pieces for their home decor and were patrons of the arts as well.  When the Ballet Russes was just getting started, the Murphy's spent months painting their sets and financially supporting the struggling company whenever necessary.  They weren't just rich people with good taste though.  What I found endearing about them was that it sounds like they were genuinely kind hearted people that never failed to help their friends whenever possible.   It's nice to see a couple that were so genuinely well-loved and well-spoken of by everyone they came in to contact with.  Gerald also went on to become a known painter in his own right.  You can see examples of his work here and here
Anyway, I definitely recommend this book if you love reading insider stories about the past from the people that seemed to always be in the center of things.  You can read more about the Murphy's here.


  1. Thanks for the great post! Hello, was wondering if you know anything about Ginny Carpenter. She looks really interesting!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts