The “Lost Generation” they called it. It was Paris and it was the 1920’s where American’s came to live, explore to find themselves and be free.
Ms Stein’s salon hosted leading figures of modernism in literature and art such as Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Matisse, Picasso and so many more. Gertrude Stein, an American woman born in Pennsylvania, found her creative niche and her heart in Paris. She created not only a home but the gathering place for all the greats to meet.
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.
Gertrude was a writer, poet, novelist, playwright and art collector. She lived in Paris with life partner Alice B.Toklas until her death at age 72.
She went on to write Q.E.D. (1903), about a lesbian romantic affair involving several of Stein’s friends, Fernhurst, a fictional story about a love triangle, Three Lives (1905–06), and The Making of Americans (1902–1911). In Tender Buttons (1914), Stein commented on lesbian sexuality.
In her early years after both parents passed away, Gertrude lived with her mother’s family in Baltimore where she met Claribel and Etta Cone who she shared their appreciation for art and conversation, that modeled a domestic division of labor that Stein would replicate in her relationship with Alice B. Toklas in her later years in Paris.
After studying at Radcliffe College in Massachusetts, she received a B.A. (bachelor of Arts) in Marine Biology magna cum laude in 1898. This was an amazing educational opportunity for a woman of that time. She then went on to study medicine until she was bored, she said. Gertrude always empowered by her choice, she then left medicine.
The main thing I got about Gertrude, is that she was a true lover of life, learning, and sharing her passions. Ms Stein was a compelling presence, a fascinating personality who had the ability to hold listeners with the “musicality of her language and powerhouse dynamic spirit.” She knew everyone it seems she was the hub, everyone connected to her and through her.
She was an unapologetic woman who flowed through life as herself with no boundaries. Her relationships with key women she considered as romantic friendships. Ms Stein maintained at the time that she detested “passion in its many disguised forms.” She was a straight shooter. I am grateful for her honesty, in a time where directness from a woman was not a trait necessarily honored or accepted. She was a bold and true support of art and literature in 19th and 20th century. Thank you Ms Gertrude Stein!
Glenda Benevides musician, storyteller, activist, good human – mirrorspeaksthetruth.com