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THE CENTURY ASSOCIATION is made up of more than two thousand authors, artists, and amateurs of letters and fine arts. To qualify as amateurs, individuals may be of any occupation provided their breadth of interest and qualities of mind and imagination make them sympathetic, stimulating, and congenial companions in a society of authors and artists. For welcoming members from poets to presidents, Mark Twain called the Century "the most unspeakably respectable club in New York." In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton noted that "Archer knew of most of the 'fellows who wrote,' the musicians and the painters" because "he met them at the Century." Ralph Ellison, a member for thirty years who praised the Century Martini as "one of our most august institutions," rarely missed a day at the clubhouse. "The best locale I've found for the enjoyment of American monologues, lies, tall tales, sermons, confessions, you name it," he remarked in his address to new members. The Century is a quintessentially New York place. Despite its debt to London clubs and the national and even international character of its membership, it could exist nowhere else. Its main activity is conversation.