Sunday, February 03, 2008

From The Writer's Almanac: Gertrude Stein's Birthday


It's the birthday of writer Gertrude Stein, (books by this author) born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (1874). When she was 30 years old she moved to Paris, and lived there for almost the rest of her life. She once said, "America is my country and Paris is my hometown." She covered the walls of her house in Paris with paintings by C├ęzanne, Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin, and others. Her house became known as "The Salon," and writers and artists came from all over to get advice and encouragement from her. Ernest Hemingway once said, "Gertrude was always right."
She would hold dinner parties and then stay up afterward to work on her own novels and essays. But she wasn't very well known as a writer until she published her autobiography, which she called The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, in 1933. It was serialized in The Atlantic Monthly and became a huge best seller in the United States. Stein became a household name, and the next year she returned to America for the first time in over 30 years, to go on a lecture tour.
Stein said, "Everybody who writes is interested in living inside themselves in order to tell what is inside themselves. That is why writers have to have two countries, the one where they belong and the one in which they live really."
Happy, Happy Birthday Gertrude!

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