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Beach and her lover Adrienne Monnier, owner of her own bookstore, La Maison des Amis de Livres, gave continued financial as well as moral support to the writers who frequented their bookstores.

As a testimony to the gratitude that her clientele felt for Beach's endeavors on their behalf, they rallied to offer their assistance when Beach herself fell upon hard financial times. Their aid allowed Shakespeare & Company to stay in operation until Nazi occupation forced the shop to close down for good in 1941.

"Movers and Shakers": Mabel Dodge Luhan's American Salon

Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy arts patron who knew Natalie Barney from boarding school in Paris, returned to America and later established a salon in her 23 Fifth Avenue apartment, just on the edge of Greenwich Village in New York City. This salon attracted many avant-garde artists and other members of New York's radical Bohemian subculture.

Although only in existence from 1912 to 1914, Luhan's salon became one of the most famous in the United States. Present at her events were birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, critic and novelist Carl Van Vechten, and journalist John Reed, among many others. Although not a gifted conversationalist or artist herself, Luhan seemed to have a gift for accumulating the best and the brightest around her.

As one might expect, the evenings at Luhan's salon attracted a colorful crowd where, as Van Vechten described, "ladies with bobbed hair and mannish cut garments" sat alongside men in evening dress and workmen's clothes.

Although primarily heterosexual, Luhan frankly details her passionate physical encounters with young women during her youth in her autobiography Intimate Memories (1933). It was in these memoirs that she dubbed her salon attendees "the movers and shakers" of history.

The Bloomsbury Group

After the death of their father in 1904 and before their marriages, sisters Virginia and Vanessa Stephen (later Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell) opened their home to a select circle of friends known as the Bloomsbury Group, named for the London district where they lived.

Because of its predominance of gay and bisexual members, the group was disparagingly referred to as "Bloomsbuggers." The Bloomsbury salon expanded after the marriages of the sisters and came to exert an important influence on British art and literature in the twentieth century.

Among the collection of friends who gathered at various times in Bloomsbury could be counted novelist E. M. Forster, biographer Lytton Strachey, economist John Maynard Keynes, and artists Duncan Grant and Dora Carrington.

Based on a mutual interest in the arts and a growing disdain for the social and sexual restrictions of the Victorian era, these meetings significantly affected the development of modernist literature and art in early twentieth-century England.

Robin Imhof

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literature >> Barney, Natalie Clifford

In addition to being the muse and inspiration of other writers, American expatriate Natalie Barney, known as the Amazon, was a poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist in her own right.

literature >> Beach, Sylvia

Through her Parisian bookshop and her editorial work, American expatriate and lesbian Sylvia Beach did much to influence the course of modern literature.

arts >> Carrington, Dora

English painter, designer, and decorative artist Dora Carrington is best known for her long relationship with gay writer Lytton Strachey, but she had affairs with both men and women, and her work has recently gained recognition.

literature >> Forster, E. M.

One of the finest English novelists of the twentieth century and a tireless defender of humane values, Forster deserves a special place in the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

arts >> Grant, Duncan

One of the major British artists of the twentieth century, Duncan Grant was also the sexual catalyst of the Bloomsbury Circle.

literature >> Hemingway, Ernest

Ernest Hemingway, himself sexually insecure, included negative, even abusive portrayals of gay men in his fiction.

social sciences >> Keynes, John Maynard

The thought of John Maynard Keynes, the most influential economist of the twentieth century, was influenced by his experience as a homosexual.

literature >> Marchant, Anyda [Sarah Aldridge] (1911-2006) and Muriel Inez Crawford (1914-2006)

Anyda Marchant and Muriel Crawford were pioneering lesbian-feminist publishers who co-founded Naiad Press; under the pen-name Sarah Aldridge, Marchant wrote best-selling romance novels.

literature >> Proust, Marcel

Marcel Proust is the author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the major achievements of Modernism and a great gay novel.

literature >> Sappho

Admired through the ages as one of the greatest lyric poets, the ancient Greek writer Sappho is today esteemed by lesbians around the world as the archetypal lesbian and their symbolic mother.

arts >> Squire, Maud Hunt (1873-1955) and Ethel Mars (1876-1956)

American artists and lifelong partners Maud Hunt Squire and Ethel Mars forged distinguished careers in book illustration, painting, and woodblock printing.

literature >> Stein, Gertrude

In addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, Gertrude Stein was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.

literature >> Strachey, Lytton

The English biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey spoke openly of his homosexuality to his Bloomsbury friends, but his openly gay works were published only after his death.

literature >> Van Vechten, Carl

The gay novelist, critic, and photographer Carl Van Vechten was especially interested in African-American culture and was an influential patron to many writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

literature >> Vivien, Renée

Renée Vivien, who had many affairs with women, openly celebrated lesboerotic love in her poetry and dreamed of women-controlled spaces in an era when most women were still domestically confined.

arts >> Wells, Cady

Famous for his watercolor paintings, Henry Cady Wells was also a patron of the arts and an activist citizen of the Santa Fe and Taos art colonies from the 1930s to the 1950s.

literature >> Woolf, Virginia

Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986.

Crunden, Robert M. American Salons: Encounters with European Modernism, 1885-1917. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993

Fitch, Noel Riley. Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. New York: Norton, 1983.

Gadd, David. The Loving Friends: A Portrait of Bloomsbury. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.

Lougee, Carolyn C. Le Paradis des Femmes: Women, Salons, and Social Stratification in Seventeenth-Century France. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1976.

Quennell, Peter, ed. Genius in the Drawing-Room: The Literary Salon in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980.

Rodriguez, Suzanne. Wild Heart. A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney's Journey from Victorian America to the Literary Salons of Paris. New York: Ecco/HarperCollins, 2002.


    Citation Information
    Author: Imhof, Robin  
    Entry Title: Salons  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 18, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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