Book Review: Tales of A Wayward Inn (the Algonquin) by Frank Case

frontispiece/title page Tales of a Wayward Inn by Frank Case

Wasn’t I lucky to find this little gem among the books at the usual bookcase  of library sale items?  For $1.00 I had several evenings of wonderful reading—going back to the glory days when a writer was a writer!   The book  was published in 1938—before you were born–and its author was the owner and manager of the Algonquin Hotel in New York for—forever!  This was the site of the famous Round Table—think Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, George S. Kaufman and —-Harpo Marx!

from Tales of A Wayward Inn by Frank Case


The memoir begins at the Algonquin’s very beginnings WAY back—before your mother was even born, when the address was really the Willow Tree at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street—-and carries all the stories and events that enriched the lives of the authors and hangers-on that exemplified the New York writing scene for decades.

Mr. Case was a generous man.  Generous to a fault.  If the patron/guest/lodger/lodger-wanna-be was a writer or had anything to do with the arts—–he had a room at the Algonquin.  It was privately understood that payment would come when times got better.

There are a thousand anecdotes here—and the last quarter of the book is devoted to letters written to Frank Case when he retired———–tributes from all the many people he helped, abetted, and encouraged throughout the years that he was manager at the Algonquin.

The Algonquin still stands.  For about $400 a night you can stay there—reminisce about the Round Table and relive, at least in your mind, the days that were so inspiring to OUR minds.

Oh, to be in that room . . . sketch by James Thurber from
Tales of A Wayward Inn

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2 Responses to Book Review: Tales of A Wayward Inn (the Algonquin) by Frank Case

  1. booksilver says:

    Can you tell us something about the illustrations? The frontispiece looks a bit like Gluyas Williams, but then the middle one doesn’t, and of course then there’s Thurber….

    • I agree–title page looks like a Gluyas Williams illustration, but I can’t find any acknowledgment of that. The illustration with the waiters serving books is by Jack Flaherty and was published in Ballyhoo magazine which published in the 1930s. Actually, the REAL frontispiece is a drawing of the author, Frank Case, done by well-known illustrator James Montgomery Flagg . . .don’t go back to look—-I didn’t include that in the post. (!) Thanks for your interest–

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