Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Marfield Prize, National Award for Arts Writing
andldquo;Tippins tells riveting stories about the Chelseaandrsquo;s artists, but she also captures a much grander, and more pressing, narrative: that of the ongoing battle between art and capitalism in the city.andrdquo; andmdash; The New Yorker
Since its founding by a utopian-minded French architect in 1884, New Yorkandrsquo;s Chelsea Hotel has been a hotbed of artistic invention and inspiration. Cultural luminaries from Bob Dylan to Sid Vicious, Thomas Wolfe to Andy Warhol, Dylan Thomas to Dee Dee Ramone andmdash; all made the Chelsea the largest and longest-lived artistsandrsquo; community in the world. Inside the Dream Palace tells the hotelandrsquo;s story, from its earliest days as a cooperative community, through its pop art, rock-and-roll, and punk periods, to its present transformation under new ownership. By exploring what it takes to maintain a creative community and how artists have enhanced and informed New York City life, Tippins, author of the acclaimed February House, delivers a lively and masterly history of the Chelsea and those who cohabitated there.
andquot;Not only essential to the understanding of this crucial New York City andmdash; and therefore American andmdash; cultural landmark, but as majestic and populous as the edifice itself, and completely entertaining.andquot; andmdash; Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake
andldquo;With her lively Inside the Dream Palace, literary biographer Sherill Tippins succeeds where other historians studying New York landmarks have failed: She understands that even the most splendid buildings are mere settings for the personalities that inhabit them, and wisely bypasses rote chronology for the vigor of cultural excavation . . . The Chelsea Hotel may face an uncertain future, but Tippinsandrsquo;s enchanting book guarantees its renown for generations to come.andrdquo; andmdash; Time Out New York
and#8220;An inspired investigation into the utopian spirit of the Chelsea Hotel.and#8221;
and#8220;Cool hunters will appreciate Sherill Tippinsand#8217;s Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New Yorkand#8217;s Legendary Chelsea Hotel, a social history of the cityand#8217;s sanctuary for postwar artists and It girls.and#8221;
"Inside the Dream Palace opens door on a vivid Chelsea Hoteland#8230;and#8230;[an] engaging, readable history"
and#8212;The Los Angeles Times
"An impossible order for any writer: Get the Chelseaand#8217;s romance down on paper and try to keep up with Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell and Arthur Miller. But Sherill Tippinsand#8217;s history does a vivid job of taking you up into those seedy, splendid hallways, now gone forever."
and#8212;New York Magazine
"With her lively Inside the Dream Palace, literary biographer Sherill Tippins succeeds where other historians studying New York landmarks have failed: She understands that even the most splendid buildings are mere settings for the personalities that inhabit them, and wisely bypasses rote chronology for the vigor of cultural excavationand#8230; The Chelsea Hotel may face an uncertain future, but Tippinsand#8217;s enchanting book guarantees its renown for generations to come."
and#8212;Time Out New York
and#8220;An amazing history of not only the Chelsea Hotel but New York City itself. Thank you, Sherill Tippins, for this exciting story of how a building became a community and went on to be a legend. Inside the Dream Palace reads like the best fiction and never ever slows down from beginning to end.and#8221;
and#8212;Country Joe McDonald, activist and lead singer of Country Joe and the Fish
and#8220;Zealous, big-picture researcher Tippins not only tells compelling tales, she also weaves them into a strikingly fresh, lucid, and socially anchored history of New Yorkand#8217;s world-altering art movements. Though its future is uncertain, Tippins ensures that the Chelsea Hotel, dream palace and microcosm, will live on in our collective memory.and#8221;
and#8220;A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven...A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.and#8221;
and#8220;A fascinating account of how a single building in New York City nurtured a community of freaks, dreamers, and outcasts whose rejection of the status quo helped to transform it.and#8221;
and#8220;Not only essential to the understanding of this crucial New York Cityand#8212;and therefore Americanand#8212;cultural landmark but as majestic and populous as the edifice itself, and completely entertaining.and#8221;
and#8212;Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake: A Memoir
and#8220;New York, the greatest city in the world, has been a magnet for bohemians since it was founded, and the Chelsea Hotel has been Bohemia's home address for more than a century. Sherill Tippins captures the mad magic of this storied building. She has written a history, not just of a hotel, but of a dream: the dream that art can change the world. Her serene and nonjudgmental eye gives coherence and shape to a story that resists any conventional frame. The Chelsea has had its high points and low, supreme artistic achievements and drug-addled suicides, sometimes in the same room. Tippins is an indispensable urban historian; her book is a guide to the lofty aspirations and crashing disappointments of America's artistic avant-garde over the last century and a half. An unforgettable read.and#8221;
and#8212;Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, New York Public Theater
and#8220;The Chelsea Hotel is so much more than the place where Sid Vicious may or may not have killed his girlfriend; it was a social experiment turned incubator for creativity. It was home for the artists and weirdos that made this city so interestingand#8212;famous, infamous, and everything in between. Sherill Tippins has done a masterful job of condensing a history that could be volumes long, into a book thatand#8217;s enthralling, enlightening and understandably wistful.and#8221;
and#8212;Judy McGuire, author of The Official Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Lists
"A deliciously readable...story of young artists trying to become themselves. ' The New York Times Book Review
"Irresistible...The house itself has long since been demolished, but Sherill Tippins has rebuilt it with intelligence and charm." The Washington Post
"A cozy, gossipy read, punctuated by solid. . .literary criticism." The New Yorker
"Tippinsand#8217; research is prodigious and fun to go through, the personalities she depicts indelibly drawn." Los Angeles Times
"Tippins' poignant stories...make the residents of the February House come alive for literature lovers and intellectual voyeurs alike." Providence Journal
"Tippins deftly captures the energy and anxiety of this group of artists who shaped mid-century culture." --Robert Weibezahl Bookpage
"A lively literary history with some surprising depth . . . A brief, madcap moment in literary chronicles." Kirkus Reviews
"This is a book that made me wish I was 20 again or living in pre-war Brooklyn circa 1940." --Rocky Mountain News
"February House casts an important light onand#133;how one group of artists handled the challenges of the era." -- Bay Area Reporter
"A tremendous amount of research lies behind February House...it truly is an engrossing tale." --The New York Observer
"The building is gone now, but Sherill Tippins makes marvelous work of the brief experiment in communal living." -- New York Daily News
The history of New York's legendary Chelsea Hotel,and#160;whereand#160;artists of all stripes, legends themselves,and#160;have lived and loved and workedand#160;for more thanand#160;a century.
The next best thing to having a room key to the Chelsea Hotel during each of its famousand#8212;and infamousand#8212;decades
The Chelsea Hotel, since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, has been an icon of American invention: a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, all in one astonishing building. Sherill Tippins, author of the acclaimed February House, delivers a masterful and endlessly entertaining history of the Chelsea and of the successive generations of artists who have cohabited and created there, among them John Sloan, Edgar Lee Masters, Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Sam Shepard, Sid Vicious, and Dee Dee Ramone. Now as legendary as the artists it has housed and the countless creative collaborations it has sparked, the Chelsea has always stood as a mystery as well: Why and how did this hotel become the largest and longest-lived artistsand#8217; community in the known world? Inside the Dream Palace is the intimate and definitive story.
Today the Chelsea stands poised in limbo between two futures: Will this symbol of New York's artistic invention be converted to a profit-driven business catering to the top one percent? Or will the Chelsea be given a rebirth through painstaking effort by the community that loves it? Set against these two competing possibilities, Inside the Dream Palace could not be more fascinating or timely.
February House is the uncovered story of an extraordinary experiment in communal living, one involving young but already iconic writers -- and the country's best-known burlesque performer -- in a house at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn during 1940 and 1941. It was a fevered yearlong party fueled by the appetites of youth and by the shared sense of urgency to take action as artists in the months before America entered the war.
In spite of the sheer intensity of life at 7 Middagh, the house was for its residents a creative crucible. Carson McCullers's two masterpieces, The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, were born, bibulously, in Brooklyn. Gypsy Rose Lee, workmanlike by day, party girl by night, wrote her book The G-String Murders in her Middagh Street bedroom. Auden -- who along with Britten was being excoriated at home in England for absenting himself from the war -- presided over the house like a peevish auntie, collecting rent money and dispensing romantic advice. And yet all the while he was composing some of the most important work of his career.
Sherill Tippins's February House, enlivened by primary sources and an unforgettable story, masterfully recreates daily life at the most fertile and improbable live-in salon of the twentieth century.
About the Author
SHERILLandnbsp;TIPPINSandnbsp;is the author of February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee Under One Roof in Wartime America. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
The Chelsea Associationand#8195;1
The Coast of Bohemiaand#8195;33
Four Saints in Three Actsand#8195;57
After the Falland#8195;136
A Strange Dreamand#8195;171
Epilogue: Second Lifeand#8195;341
Appendix: Cost Equivalenciesand#8195;349
Authorand#8217;s Note and Acknowledgmentsand#8195;353