Big Four (debutantes)

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Chicago's Big Four were a quartet of debutantes in the Chicago social scene during World War I, described as "the four most attractive and socially desirable young women in Chicago."[1]

Background[edit]

Each of the "Four" was born around the turn of the century and came from a wealthy family in the Chicago area. In the summer of 1914, these friends began referring to themselves as "The Big Four," even getting rings engraved with "The Big Four 1914." They attended parties and played tennis together. They were "so legendary for their beauty that they were known by that designation for the rest of their lives."[2]

Ginevra King[edit]

Main article: Ginevra King

Ginevra King (1898-1980), daughter of Chicago financier Charles King, is best known for her romantic relationship with, and being the muse for, F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was the inspiration for the character of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. King married twice, to William Mitchell and John T. Pirie, Jr.

Edith Cummings[edit]

Edith Cummings on the cover of Time
Main article: Edith Cummings

Edith Cummings (March 26, 1899 – November 1984) was one of the premier golfers of her generation. In 1923, she won the U.S. Women's Amateur, and she appeared on the August 25, 1924 cover of Time magazine.[3] She was also a big game hunter and equestrienne. In 1934, she married Curtis Burton Munson.[4]

Cummings met F. Scott Fitzgerald through King, and was the inspiration for the character of Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby.[5]

Courtney Letts[edit]

Courtney Louise Letts was born in Chicago on June 17, 1899.[6] Around 1920, she married Wellesley H. Stillwell. They divorced in 1924, and in 1925, she married John Borden, with whom she traveled to the Arctic; this provided the material for her 1928 book The Cruise of the Northern Light. They divorced in 1933 and three weeks later, she married Argentine ambassador Felipe de Espil, who had courted her in the early 1920s.

While married to Espil, she became "one of the world's ten best-dressed women, and an able diplomat herself."[7] In 1943, they moved back to Buenos Aires, and then in 1945 to Madrid when Felipe was appointed Argentina's ambassador to Spain. In 1955, he became ambassador to Brazil, and then around 1959, he and Courtney retired to Buenos Aires. Felipe died in 1972. After moving to New York, she married Foster Adams in 1974. She died April 7, 1995 in Washington, D.C.

Works by Letts:

  • The Cruise of the Northern Light - New York: Macmillan Co. 1928. (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 2004. ISBN 0-8117-3140-5)
  • Adventures in a Man's World - New York: Macmillan Co. 1933. (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 2005. ISBN 0-8117-3205-3)
  • La Esposa del Embajador - Buenos Aires: Editorial Jorge Alvarez S.A. 1967. (Spanish)
  • Noticias Confidenciales de Buenos Aires a USA (1869-1892) - Buenos Aires: Editorial Jorge Alvarez S.A. 1969. (Spanish)

Margaret Carry[edit]

Margaret "Peg" Carry (1899/1900-1942)[8] was the daughter of Edward F. Carry,[9] one-time president of the Pullman Company and assistant to Edward Nash Hurley, chairman of the Shipping Board, during World War I.[10] She is mentioned by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his Ledger from August 1916: "Lake Forest. Peg Carry. Petting party...The dinner at Peg's...Peg Carry stands straight..."

She married Edward Cudahy, Jr. on December 28, 1919 in Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. She died in 1942.

References[edit]