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Gertrude Stein


Gertrude Stein is not particularly famous for being a novelist. Indeed, her best-known novel, The Making of Americans, is not read much, not least because the full version runs to over a thousand pages and is probably only remembered for the famous quotation A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. It is not entirely sure what she is famous for. Is it because she held court in Paris during the Twenties and Thirties, influencing, encouraging and helping virtually every major writer, thinker and artist, American and European? Is it because she and others promoted the Gertrude Stein cult (she called herself The greatest mind of the twentieth century)? Is it because of her famous Lesbian relationship with Alice. B. Toklas, which resulted in her most famous book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas? Or perhaps because of her poetry which is being rediscovered? Let us not forget that, in addition, she also wrote children’s books, plays, a libretto to an opera as well as works of criticism.

Gertrude Stein was born in 1874 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania but was educated abroad. She studied at Radcliffe College, where one of her instructors was William James who introduced her to psychology. She went on to Johns Hopkins to study the brain. She then drifted off to Europe, ending up in Paris where she was to stay for the rest of her life. She initially lived with her brother Leo but after she met Alice B. Toklas, on a visit from her home in San Francisco, she soon split from Leo and Stein and Toklas lived together till Stein’s death in 1946. Apart from a lecture tour in the USA after the success of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, they lived in France all the time, though they left Paris during the war and lived in their country home in Bilignin, returning to Paris after the war to find their things still intact. Sadly, Stein was to live only a short while after, having contracted colon cancer. She will be remembered but I am not entirely sure what for.

Books about Gertrude Stein

Jane Palatini Bowers: Gertrude Stein
John Malcolm Brinnin: The Third Rose: Gertrude Stein and Her World
Avis Burnett: Gertrude Stein
Nancy Cole: Hommage à Gertrude Stein
Howard Greenfeld: Gertrude Stein: a Biography
Janet Hobhouse: Everybody Who Was Anybody: a Biography of Gertrude Stein
Michael J. Hoffman: Gertrude Stein
Frederick John Hoffman: Gertrude Stein
Bettina Liebowitz Knapp: Gertrude Stein
James R. Mellow: Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein & Company
Diana Souhami: Gertrude and Alice
Elizabeth Sprigge: Gertrude Stein: Her Life and Work
Alice B. Toklas: What Is Remembered
Linda Wagner-Martin: Favored Strangers: Gertrude Stein and her Family

Other links

Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein (her portrait by Picasso)
Gertrude Stein – brief biography
Gertrude Stein’s War; The years in Occupied France.
Gertrude Stein Online Works
The Gertrude Stein Society


1909 Three Lives
1913 White Wines
1914 Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms
1917 An Exercise in Analysis
1920 A Circular Play
1922 Geography and Plays
1925 The Making of Americans
1926 Composition as Explanation
1928 Dan Raffel a Nephew
1928 Useful Knowledge
1929 An Acquaintance with Description
1929 Four Saints in Three Acts (libretto)
1929 As a Wife Has a Cow, a Love Story
1931 How to Write
1932 Operas and Plays
1932 Scenery and George Washington: a Novel or a Play
1933 The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
1933 Matisse, Picasso and Gertrude Stein
1934 Chicago Inscriptions
1934 Evidence
1934 Four Saints in Three Acts; an Opera to be Sung
1934 Portraits and Prayers
1935 How Writing is Written
1935 Lectures in America
1935 Narration; Four Lectures
1936 The Geographical History of America or The Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind
1937 Daniel Webster: Eighteen in America, a Play
1937 Everybody’s Autobiography
1938 Picasso
1938 Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights
1939 The World is Round
1940 Paris France
1940 What Are Masterpieces
1941 Ida: a Novel
1945 Wars I Have Seen
1946 Brewsie and Willie
1946 The Gertrude Stein First Reader & Three Plays
1946 In Savoy
1946 Selected Writings
1946 Reflections on the Atom Bomb
1946 The Mother of Us All (libretto)
1947 Four in America
1948 Blood on the Dining-Room Floor
1949 Last Operas and Plays
1950 Things As They Are: a Novel in Three Parts
1951 The Yale Edition of the Unpublished Writings of Gertrude Stein
1952 Mrs. Reynolds and Five Earlier Novelettes
1953 Bee Time Vine and Other Pieces, 1913-1927
1953 Patriarchal Poetry
1954 As Fine as Melanctha
1955 Absolutely Bob Brown or Bobbed Brown, a Previously Unpublished Portrait
1955 Painted Lace and Other Pieces, 1914-1937
1957 Alphabets and Birthdays
1958 A Novel of Thank You
1967 Writings and Lectures 1909-1945
1968 Lucretia Borgia, a Play
1969 Lucy Church, Amiably
1970 Selected Operas and Plays of Gertrude Stein
1971 Fernhurst, Q.E.D. and Other Early Writings
1971 Look at Me Now and Here I Am; Writings and Lectures, 1909-43
1973 The Previously Uncollected Writings of Gertrude Stein
1973 Reflection on the Atomic Bomb
1977 Dear Sammy : Letters from Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas
1982 Paris, France: Personal Recollections
1988 Five Short War Poems
1989 Lifting Belly
1989 Really Reading Gertrude Stein : a Selected Anthology With Essays by Judy Grahn
1993 A Stein Reader
1994 Stanzas in Meditation
1997 History or Messages from History
1998 Writings, 1903-1932
1998 Writings, 1932-1946
2000 To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays