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LGBT People from History 19 - Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas

Updated on April 25, 2012
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein | Source
Alice B Toklas
Alice B Toklas | Source

Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas

Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946) was an American poet, writer and collector of art. She moved around a lot in early life before studying at Radcliffe College and Johns Hopkins Medical School. She became involved in ‘stream of consciousness‘ writing – a form of free flow writing. Stein left the US for Paris in 1903. There she built up a fabulous private art collection including works by Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse together with her brother Leo. The Steins held salon evenings to which members of the contemporary art world were invited. Stein also wrote extensively publishing works such as ‘Fernhurst’, ‘Three Lives’, ‘Word Portraits’, and ‘Tender Buttons’.

Alice Babette Toklas (1877 - 1967) was born in San Francisco and studied music at the University of Washington.

In 1907, Stein and Toklas met for the first time in Paris. Toklas seemed to have been smitten at first sight. Their relationship was very close. Stein was certainly the dominant partner. It lasted until Stein’s death. They spent two World Wars together and were leading lights in the artistic and writing circles of France entertaining many famous authors (eg Hemmingway) and artists. Stein’s writing became more and more overt and it is said she coined the word ‘gay’ in present day usage for same-sex relationships.

Stein died of stomach cancer and left Toklas devastated. Stein’s family succeeded in getting their hands on her estate even though Stein had left Toklas much of it in her will leaving Toklas very poor. She relied on handouts from friends and died in poverty.

They are both buried together in Pere Lachaise in Paris.

Ian and Callum.

Thanks to Wikipedia.

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    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      That photo was taken around 3 years after Gertrude's death, I believe. It is very, very sad.


    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Its a Great hub Ian, moved me to tears.

      This is such a sad story, I wept at the end for poor Alice, she lived in poverty and that picture just makes you want to give her a huge hug...

      A brilliant success :)