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.
Leddick, David. George Platt Lynes, 1907-1955. New York:
Leddick, David. Intimate Companions: A Triography of George
Platt Lynes, Paul
Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle. New York: St. Martin’s
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
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.
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.