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III

Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler met in 1919 at the University of Chicago, and they continued to be lifelong companions until Wescott’s death in 1987. Wheeler died in 1988. Wescott was a successful young writer in the first half of the twentieth century, best known for The Pilgrim Hawk, Apartment in Athens, and The Grandmothers. Wheeler had made a name for himself as a publisher and then began a freelance relationship with the Museum of Modern Art. He eventually became the Membership Director in 1938 and then the Director of Exhibitions and Publications. Wheeler is known for creating the format for the “coffee table” book as we know it today. He also secured great pieces of art for MoMA, including the works of Matisse.

Throughout this long relationship, lovers entered and exited for both Wescott and Wheeler, but they had agreed that this was permissible. In fact, the two shared a secret signal—whistling Mozart’s “Pace, Pace”—for difficult times that involved the presence of one of their alternative love interests. In early 1927, George Platt Lynes became the next of these lovers, falling deeply in love with Monroe Wheeler. He entered the relationship as a third party, and for fifteen years the three men first traveled throughout Europe as expatriates and then lived together in various apartments in New York City. Their friends included artists, writers, and intellectuals such as Jean Cocteau, Gertrude Stein, Katherine Anne Porter, Barbara Harrison, Cecil Beaton, Paul Cadmus, Somerset Maugham, and countless others. Lynes had initially contacted Wescott and Wheeler because he was interested in writing and publishing, but it was on one of their trips together in France that Wescott and Wheeler observed Lynes’ gift for photography. They purchased equipment for him, introduced him to their famous friends, and encouraged him to shoot photos. As a result, Lynes became a successful portrait artist, fashion photographer, and chronicler of the then very young New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. Lynes also created an extensive series of male nudes, and these photos provide a fascinating point of reference for the relationship that he maintained with Wescott and Wheeler. The ménage a trois ended in February 1943 when Lynes moved out of the apartment that the three men shared, thus bringing to a close one of the longer chapters that supplemented the sixty-plus years relationship between Wescott and Wheeler. Lynes would eventually succumb to cancer in 1955 at the age of forty-eight.

Further Reading


Leddick, David. George Platt Lynes, 1907-1955. New York: Taschen, 2000.

Leddick, David. Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul
Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle
. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Lynes, George Platt. George Platt Lynes: Photographs from The Kinsey Institute. New
York: Bulfinch Press, 1993.

Lynes, George Platt. Portrait: The Photographs of George Platt Lynes, 1927-1955.
Japan: Twin Palms Publishers, 1994.

Phelps, Robert, with Jerry Rosco, ed. Continual Lessons: The Journals of Glenway
Wescott
, 1937-1955. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1990.

Pohorilenko, Anatole, and James Crump. When We Were Three: The Travel Albums of
George Platt Lynes, Monroe Wheeler, and Glenway Wescott
, 1925-1935. Santa
Fe, New Mexico: Arena Editions, 1998.

Rosco, Jerry. Glenway Wescott Personally: A Biography. Madison, Wisconsin:
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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