American novelist, author, poet, playwright, and art collector. Helped to shape the artistic movement ‘Avant Garde’ in Paris.
Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. After both of her parents died, she moved to live with her uncle in Baltimore, where she attended Saturday evening salons, a kind of social gathering that years later she will emulate in Paris.
At age 24, Stein earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Radcliffe College, afterward studied medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School.
When she reached age 29, Stein moved to Paris, joining her brother Leo. Together they began to collect post-impressionist paintings and helped artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
The two siblings established a literary and artistic salon in their apartment, where they’ve hosted leading artists and writers, like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
After Leo moved to Italy, Gertrude remained in Paris with her assistant and lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas.
In her writing, Stein experimented with different kinds of techniques, like Cubism, abstraction, and stream-of-consciousness. Although her work was appreciated, it wasn’t comprehensible to everyone; thus, her only commercial success was “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”, that was written from Toklas’s point-of-view.
Stein remained in France through the two World Wars, at WW1 she even served as an ambulance driver for the French. During WW2 she hid from the Gestapo in a small village near the Swiss border.
Stein died no long after the end of the war when she was 72 years old. Though she wasn’t always understood, Stein had a significant influence on contemporary literature and had been the subject of many artistic works, including musicals, movies, and plays.
“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- Picasso painted a portrait of her that looks nothing like her.
- At her essay ‘Miss Furr and Miss Skeene’, the word ‘gay’ appears more than 100 times. That is probably the first time the word ‘gay’ used in reference to same-sex relationships.
- Influenced by the ideas of the philosopher Otto Weininger, Stein embraced herself a pseudo-masculinity identity.