Gertrude Stein

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Gertrude Stein
Stein in 1935 (photograph by Carl Van Vechten)
Stein in 1935 (photograph by Carl Van Vechten)
Born(1874-02-03)February 3, 1874
Allegheny, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 1946(1946-07-27) (aged 72)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
  • Writer
  • poet
  • novelist
  • playwright
  • art collector
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Johns Hopkins University
Literary movementModernist literature
PartnerAlice Toklas


Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) was an American novelist, poet, playwright, and art collector.

Stein was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Oakland, California. She moved to Paris in 1903 and lived in France for the rest of her life.[1]

From 1893 to 1897 she went to Radcliffe College, a women's school connected to Harvard University. She was a student of psychologist William James. He asked her to study medicine. She entered Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1897, but she failed some classes and left the school.[1] Soon she went to Europe with her brother Leo. She lived with him in the Montparnasse district at 27, rue de Fleurus.[2] In 1905 they bought paintings by Matisse and Picasso. They began a salon every Saturday evening to show the new art to others.[2]

She started writing seriously in Paris. She wrote The Making of Americans from 1906 to 1911. It was the long story of an American family. By 1909 she wrote Three Lives, stories about three women. In 1912 she wrote Tender Buttons, a group of prose poems about ordinary things. In this book Stein uses the English language in a way that reminds some people of what Picasso and others were doing with their cubist painting.[2][3]

Stein met and fell in love with Alice B. Toklas in 1907. When brother Leo moved from Rue de Fleurus in 1910, Stein and Toklas began living together. They were companions for life. During World War I, from 1916, they drove around southern France bringing supplies to hospitals.[2][3]

After the war Stein kept writing. She got to know many other writers and artists who had come to Paris. She knew many American writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, Thornton Wilder, Paul Bowles, and Sherwood Anderson.[4]

In 1933 she published The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. It was easier to read than most of her other books. It became very popular and she became famous. In 1934 and 1935, she visited America with Toklas and gave lectures.[3]

During World War II, Stein and Toklas stayed in the south of France under the Vichy government. "Even though they were Jewish, lesbian, American, and collectors of modern art," they were not bothered by the Nazi-supported government.[3][5]

Stein died of stomach cancer in 1946.[3]

Books[change | change source]

  • Three Lives (1909)
  • Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms (1914)
  • Geography and Plays (1922)
  • The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family's Progress (written 1906–8, published completely 1966)
  • How to Write (1931)
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933)
  • Lectures in America (1935)
  • Everybody's Autobiography (1937)
  • The World is Round (1939)
  • Ida A Novel (1941)
  • Wars I Have Seen (1945)

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Gertrude Stein". Poetry Foundation. January 16, 2023. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Gertrude Stein". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "National Portrait Gallery | Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories". Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  4. "Extravagant Crowd | Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas". Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  5. "The Strange Politics of Gertrude Stein". The National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved January 16, 2023.