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Gertrude Stein

Photo of Gertrude Stein

GERTRUDE STEIN (1874 – 1946) was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania wealthy German-Jewish immigrants. When Stein was three, her family moved, first to Vienna, and then to Paris. They returned to the U.S. in 1878 and settled in Oakland, California.

In 1903, Stein moved to Paris with Alice B. Toklas, a younger friend from San Francisco who would remain her partner and secretary throughout her life. Together with Toklas and her brother, Leo, Stein took an apartment on the Left Bank. Their home, 27 rue de Fleurus, soon became a gathering spot for many young artists and writers including Henri Matisse, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire. Stein was a passionate advocate for the “new” in art. Her literary friendships grew to include writers as diverse as William Carlos WilliamsDjuna Barnes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway.

Her first book, Three Lives, was published in 1909. She followed it with Tender Buttons (Claire Marie) in 1914. Her writing, characterized by its use of words for their associations and sounds rather than their meanings, received considerable interest from other artists and writers, but did not find a wide audience.

Among Stein’s most influential works are Stanzas in Meditation and Other Poems [1929–1933] (Books for Libraries Press, 1956); The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (Harcourt, Brace, 1933), which was a best-seller; How to Write (Plain Edition, 1931); and The Making of Americans (Contact Editions, 1925). Stein died of cancer at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine on July 27, 1946.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Bio as of 7/2023

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