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The Queen of Bohemia and the Upper West Side

March 23, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

LW favorite speaker Eve M. Kahn, curator of a spring ’23 show at the historic Grolier Club museum, To Fight for the Poor with My Pen: Zoe Anderson Norris, Queen of Bohemia, brings to LW! the remarkable story of a foremother of modern-day social justice advocates and confessional bloggers. In millions of published words of fiction and journalism–including in her own bimonthly magazine, The East Side (1909-1914)–Zoe Anderson Norris documented poverty, corruption and sexism and became one of the most prolific writers of her time as well as a colorful New York City personality known as the “Queen of Bohemia.”

A dissatisfied divorcée from Kentucky, Norris moved to Manhattan in 1900 and reinvented herself. Radiantly beautiful and incredibly witty, she began as something of a “stunt” reporter. But after witnessing the poverty and injustice lying just below the surface of Gilded Age New York, she moved into a tenement on East 15th Street and started her own magazine. The East Side’s pages included everything from undercover sweatshop investigations and exposés of the city’s robber barons to poetry and profiles — all written by Norris herself.

Norris often lived, conducted interviews and attended parties uptown, including on the Upper West Side; Kahn will explore surviving buildings that witnessed the wanderings of the “Queen of Bohemia.” Her world was eclectic and chaotic. Her Ragged Edge Klub was a weekly party that combined talks on combating prejudice and bigotry with “dancing like dervishes” to ragtime music.

Zoe Anderson Norris was unique for her era–unique for any era–and Eve Kahn, who is completing a biography of Norris, is her perfect storyteller. Up until her last days (she even predicted her own death), Norris’ greater-than-life-sized persona captivated everyone around her. Kahn introduces us to the woman and the times with little-seen photos of the people and artifacts of Norris’ world and writings featuring her work alongside illustrations by major Gilded Age artists. Don’t miss this very special program on March 23!

BONUS for 12 lucky members: On Friday, March 31, from 4:30-6:00pm, Eve Kahn will offer a size-limited private tour for 12 Landmark West! members at the Grolier Club, the oldest existing bibliophilic club in North America, at 47 East 60th Street. In addition to her own exhibition on Zoe Norris, highlights of the tour will include the 1910 club building’s soaring neoclassical library, a Gilded Age interpretation of a 17th-century New York taproom, and a memorial shrine for a Victorian bibliomaniac. Hear all about Zoe Norris on March 24 then join Eve Kahn for a walk through the amazing exhibit she has curated in a private Gilded Age-era club. Space is very limited. Additional ticket required. The Grolier Club is ADA compliant; masks optional.


March 23, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Landmark West!
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