Gertrude Stein

gertrude stein and alice b. toklas

Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) is one of the most significant writers of the early twentieth century. Though some consider her writing incoherent, others view it as a singular voice.

Born to a well-to-do family in Pennsylvania, Stein went to college at Radcliffe and then studied medicine for four years at Johns Hopkins University. But she was bored by exams and was only interested in the learning itself, not the results.

Stein lived most of her adult life in Paris, where she and her brother (Leo Stein) amassed an important art collection. She and her life partner, Alice B. Toklas, opened their apartment as a salon for artists and writers. She coined the term “The Lost Generation” to describe the writers of the 1920s, including Joyce, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway, for whom she served as an almost maternal figure.

Gertrude Stein

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Her poems were unlike any others—each almost like a piece of abstract art to experience throughout the senses. Stein’s most popular work was The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which is written through Alice’s point of view. Aside from poetry and novels, Stein also wrote plays, operas, and gave many lectures.

Stein died in Paris on July 27, 1946 at the age of 72 from complications from stomach cancer surgery after surgery. She is buried in Paris, in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

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