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Djuna Barnes


Djuna Barnes was born in 1892 in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. She was educated at home by her father in a house with both her mother and her father’s mistress. The family was primarily supported by Barnes’ grandmother as her father did little remunerative work. She started writing early and produced a lot of journalism, including an interview with James Joyce. She also studied art in New York and produced some drawings in the style of Aubrey Beardsley. She became very involved in the Bohemian world of New York. In 1915 she published The Book of Repulsive Women which included both poems and drawings and was remarkable for its frank depiction of lesbian love. She also started to write plays and several were produced. In the early 1920s she went to Paris and had some success with her novel Ryder. She started writing Nightwood in the early 1930s, after her break-up with Thelma Wood, though she had difficulty finding a publisher for it. T S Eliot eventually published it for Faber & Faber, though it initially had little success. After a bout of alcoholism, she returned to Greenwich Village and lived in a small apartment there for the rest of her life. During that period she produced a play and some poems. She died in 1982.

Books about Djuna Barnes

Andrew Field: Djuna: The Formidable Miss Barnes
Andrew Field: Djuna: The Life and Times of Djuna Barnes
Phillip Herring: Djuna: The Life and Work of Djuna Barnes

Other links

Djuna Barnes
Djuna Barnes
Djuna Barnes
Djuna Barnes
Djuna Barnes; An Amazing Woman
The Confessions of Helen Westley (article by Barnes)
What Do You See, Madam? (story by Barnes)


1915 The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings (Text of this work)
1928 A Book (later: A Night Among the Horses; Spillway)
1928 Ladies Almanack
1928 Ryder
1936 Nightwood
1958 The Antiphon
1974 Vagaries Malicieux: Two Stories
1982 Creatures in an Alphabet
1982 Smoke and Other Early Stories
1987 I Could Never Be Lonely without a Husband: Interviews by Djuna Barnes
1989 New York
1995 At the Roots of the Stars: The Short Plays
1996 Collected Stories of Djuna Barnes
1996 Poe’s Mother: Selected Drawings
2005 Collected Poems: With Notes Toward the Memoirs
2016 Vivid and Repulsive as the Truth: The Early Works of Djuna Barnes
2019 The Lydia Steptoe Stories
2020 Biography of Julie von Bartmann