Michael Arlen’s “The Green Hat”

One of the hottest British novels of the Twenties and the Thirties was Michael Arlen’s “The Green Hat”. Arlen’s real name was Dikran Kouyoumdjian.

Although an immigrant, the 27-year-old Armenian knew the British class system, the lifestyle of the elite, their proclivities, and their slang better than most observers of the British upper crust.

“The Green Hat” popularity was not confined to the public. Famous writers admitted being influenced by the novel. Ernest Hemingway said F. Scott Fitzgerald knew the plots of every one of Arlen’s novels. Fitzgerald had told Hemingway to watch Arlen because he could learn much from him. In “Decline and Fall”, Evelyn Waugh wrote, “all Mayfair seemed to throb with the heart of Mr. Arlen.”

The heroine of “The Green Hat” was Iris March. She was based on socialite Nancy Cunard who died destitute 40 years after the publication of the novel.

By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto keghart.org

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