Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell host a Christmas party at their Bloomsbury home.
Emily Dickinson RSVPs “no—” but sends a loaf of her famous gingerbread and a poem so cleverly hyphenated that they forgive her.
e.e. cummings regrets that Dickinson does not attend; he wanted to discuss the relativistic nature of grammar rules. He plays Scrabble with Shakespeare instead.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald crank the gramophone and Charleston near the eggnog bowl.
Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen commandeer the settee near the Christmas tree and exchange witty banter about social mores and marital prospects. Wilde does not remove his fur coat.
Walt Whitman arrives fashionably late. People smile and nod politely, then gossip amongst themselves. Whitman is delighted; he started the latest rumor himself.
Wordsworth sips his eggnog and reminisces about Christmases from his childhood. Tennyson strokes his beard and nods affirmingly, responding with symbolic remarks about friendship and mythic figures. They toast to the queen.
Shakespeare asks Woolf where her dictionary is; he needs to settle a spelling disagreement with e.e. cummings.
Charles Dickens dramatically performs his latest short story, complete with facial expressions so realistic and garish that Charlotte Brontë swoons.
Elizabeth Gaskell revives Brontë, and the friends sit in the corner while Gaskell vents in a passionate but ladylike whisper about how insufferable and controlling Dickens is.
Robert Browning pauses with wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning beneath the mistletoe.
Everyone gathers their wraps, hats, and umbrellas and thank Woolf and Hogarth for a scintillating evening. Bounding down the front steps, Dickens can’t resist quoting himself.
“God bless us, everyone.”