“We had been planning the trip for over a year… exchanging letters brimming over with rapturous plans and lyric anticipation…”

Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay


In June of 1922, Cornelia and Emily, fresh out of college, travel to Europe on their own (an adventure that was rare – practically unheard of – for young ladies at that time).  And pretty much from the very start, their journey is filled with crazy misadventures, large and small.

Their first ship runs aground before it ever gets into open water.  Emily attempts to assist a “man over board” by dropping a deck chair on top of him.  Cornelia contracts measles and has to be smuggled past English health inspectors at the risk of being discovered and sent to a German quarantine camp.  And this is all before their travels officially begin.

From getting lost in the maze at Hampton Court to unknowingly spending the night in a French brothel, the young ladies encounter one hilarious incident after another.  Along the way, they meet such notables as H.G. Wells and Margaret Sanger, sometimes with embarrassing results.

Told in Cornelia Otis Skinner’s marvelously witty voice, with her droll, self-deprecating humor, this book has been adored by fans ever since its publication in 1942.  What makes this story especially addictive is that it is a work of non-fiction, as Cornelia and Emily attest to at the beginning of the tale:

“Lest the reader should be in any doubt, we wish to state that the incidents in this book are all true and the characters completely non-fictitious.”