In the years between the two world wars, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas played ball — baseball. Their team, known as Le Gang Stein, included female luminaries from the literary world.
New York Times illustrator Rick Meyerowitz captures the team as he imagines it in a caricature titled “The Girls of Summer.” Published in the Aug. 3 NYT Book Review, it features a snippet of a poem by Stein and includes Virginia Woolf.
What’s more, Woolf is said to consider Ring Lardner’s You Know Me, Al, her “favorite baseball book.”
Todd Avery documents the connection between Woolf and Lardner in “‘The Girls in Europe Is Nuts over Ball Players’: Ring Lardner and Virginia Woolf” (1968). Avery writes that “Both writers—Lardner as a matter of professional obligation as well as personal interest, Woolf as a feminist theorist—were attuned to an unusual degree to the ideological role of sports in their respective societies” (1). He adds that just one 1925 essay, “American Fiction,” which is included in The Moment And Other Essays, expresses Woolf’s interest in Lardner.
A July 23, 2012, Wall Street Journal article, “Taking Fiction Out to the Ballgame,” also mentions Lardner’s appeal to Woolf, citing her “American Fiction” essay: “[Lardner] writes the best prose that has come our way, often in a language which is not English.”
And if you love baseball as much as you love Woolf, you can combine the two by purchasing your very own Woolf baseball jersey.