In the 1920s San Francisco hosted its own community of bohemians - not unlike Greenwich Village's. Artists, writers, musicians, radicals, and free-thinkers of many stripes gathered in eateries such as the legendary Coppa's and the artist colony at Monkey Block. Their goal: to create a new world of freedom, art and politics. Novelist Jasmin Darznik, author of The Bohemians, and historian Sherry L. Smith, author of Bohemians West: Free Love, Family and Radicals in Twentieth Century America," will discuss this brilliant moment in San Francisco history.
Darznik's book mixes history and fiction in her tale of photographer Dorothea Lange's early years in San Francisco. Lange opened one of the first female-owned portrait studios in the country at 540 Sutter Street with the help of her Chinese-American assistant, whose name and story have been lost to history. Darznik's novel offers a way to tell the untold parts of this story, filling a glaring absence.
Smith's non-fiction book features the lives of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field -- poets and political radicals -- and their constellation of better known friends including Lincoln Steffens, Emma Goldman and Ansel Adams. It is based on an extensive archive of personal letters housed at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.
The two authors will bring to life these heady days of experimentation. They will also discuss their distinctive approaches to researching and writing about the era, considering the advantages and disadvantages of fiction versus nonfiction as a means of drawing a vivid picture of Bohemian San Francisco.