If there’s ever a place to catch the spirit of the season, it’s at Malabar Farm, nestled amid the pastoral ambiance of Mansfield. On December 8, the halls were decked with boughs of holly, and Christmas trees throughout the 32-room “Big House” were aglow during the annual fete in which those of us who love it raised a glass to 2012.
It’s easy to see why book lovers revel in this palatial estate. Novelist Louis Bromfield resided there from 1939 until his death in 1956. A member of “the lost generation” of celebrated Jazz Age writers that include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, Bromfield won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for his first book, “Early Autumn.” He’d go on to write 30 more bestsellers — many of which were made into successful motion pictures, including “When the Rains Came,” starring Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy.
In 1938, the author decided to leave the Hollywood jet-set life to return to his native Mansfield. He embarked on a new career that involved penning nonfiction manuals about soil conservation and ecologically sound farming techniques. (Talk about being ahead of his time!) But Bromfield never forgot the friends he made on the literary journey of his youth. Summer weekends at the farm were filled with visits from screen legends that included James Cagney, Shirley Temple and Carole Lombard. In 1945, Lauren Bacall descended the majestic staircase in the foyer to become the bride of Humphrey Bogart. (To this day, the farm remains a popular place to say ‘I do.’)
So, it was no surprise that amid the holiday revelry, everyone was buzzing about the exciting weekend that will be held at the farm next summer: June 1 through 3, Stephen Bogart — son of Bogie and Bacall — and Tyrone Power Jr. — offspring of the 1940s film legend — will visit Malabar Farm to look back at the heyday of Hollywood and discuss the film legacies of Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Louis Bromfield. Movie screenings and a poster auction will be part of the fun.
Clearly, it’s an event none of us will want to miss. For more information, visit malabarfarm.org