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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Lesbian Paris (ca 1900-1940)
 
  From the late nineteenth century until World War II, Paris was a center of sexual freedom and same-sex sexual cultures. Lesbian American and European expatriates and France's own lesbian writers and artists created a Bohemian social, sexual, and creative milieu that makes this time and place unique in the history of lesbian culture.  
 
 
  Berenice Abbott Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), an accomplished American photographer famous for her New York cityscapes, made memorable images of gay men and lesbians in Paris in the 1920s.  
 
 
  Margaret Anderson Margaret Anderson (1886-1973) is best known as the editor of The Little Review in which she published some of the most important writers of the early twentieth century. Following a conviction for obscenity in the United States, Anderson spent much of the 1920s in Paris.  
 
 
  Djuna Barnes Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) was a writer who sought new forms of lesbian self-representation in her novels. Her Ladies Almanack (1928) playfully satirizes the lesbian culture she experienced while living in Paris during the 1920s.  
 
 
  Natalie Clifford Barney Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), an American-born poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist, moved to Paris permanently in 1920. She established an influential literary salon that lasted more than fifty years, and documented her encounters with gay and lesbian writers she met there in two well-regarded memoirs.  
 
 
  Sylvia Beach Sylvia Beach (1887-1962) was an American-born editor who founded Shakespeare and Company, a Parisian bookshop that had a significant impact on modern literature.  
 
 
  Nadia Boulanger Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) may have been the greatest teacher of musical composition in the twentieth century. Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem, and Aaron Copland were among the hundreds of students who came to her tiny Paris studio.  
 
 
  Romaine Brooks Romaine Brooks (1874-1970) was an American expatriate artist whose life-sized female nudes and portraits of cross-dressed women made her lesbian identity and desire visible to the world.  
 
 
  Claude Cahun (1894-1954), a French photographer, photo collagist, writer, and translator, photographed several noted lesbian expatriates in Paris.  
 
 
  Colette Colette (1873-1954) is one of France's most beloved writers. Her work includes a frank study of sexuality entitled The Pure and the Impure (1932), which addresses a broad range of sexual inclinations.  
 
 
  Janet Flanner Janet Flanner (1892-1978) was an American-born novelist, translator, and journalist best known for her fortnightly "Letter from Paris," which she wrote for the New Yorker from 1925 to 1975.  
 
 
  Gisele Freund Gisèle Freund (1908?-2000), an accomplished photojournalist, is best remembered as a chronicler of the vibrant Bohemian community of writers and artists in Paris during the 1930s.  
 
 
  A painting by Agnes Goodsir Agnes Noyes Goodsir (1864-1939) was an Australian painter who became part of the legendary lesbian scene in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s; her portraits of women have an erotic and radical edge.  
 
 
  Eileen Gray Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was an architect and designer of furniture, rugs, and lacquered screens, some of which have become icons of early modern design. Though reclusive by nature, Gray was familiar with the circles of Natalie Clifford Barney and Gertrude Stein and developed a close friendship with Romaine Brooks.  
 
 
  Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943), who lived her lesbianism openly and proudly, is best known for The Well of Loneliness (1928), arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written. Much of the novel is set in Paris, a city Hall knew well.  
 
 
  Florence Henri (1893-1982) was an American-born avant-garde photographer who settled in Paris in 1920. Though she was reticent about her own bisexuality, much of Henri's work expressed an interest in gender and the nude female body.  
 
 
  Wanda Landowska Wanda Landowska (1879-1959), a member of Natalie Clifford Barney's circle, was almost single-handedly responsible for the revival of the harpsichord as a performance instrument in the twentieth century.  
 
 
  Marie Laurencin Marie Laurençin (1883-1956) was a French painter, portrait artist, and set designer who was associated with the salons of Gertrude Stein and Natalie Clifford Barney. Her feminine approach to cubist painting has elicited scorn from some critics and praise from others.  
 
 
  Tamara de Lempicka Tamara de Lempicka (1898?-1980), a Polish-born painter, remains popular today for her highly sexualized art deco portraits. She spent much of the 1920s in Paris's literary Bohemia, where she developed friendships with several notable lesbian writers.  
 
 
  Betty Parsons Betty Parsons (1900-1982) was a painter and the owner of the Betty Parsons Gallery, one of the most influential galleries in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. During the 1920s and early 1930s, she lived in Paris where she sought out older members of the expatriate lesbian community such as Natalie Clifford Barney, Romaine Brooks, Sylvia Beach, and Gertrude Stein.  
 
 
  Maud Hunt Squire (1873-1955) and Ethel Mars (1876-1956) were American artists and lifelong partners who forged distinguished careers in book illustration, painting, and woodblock printing. Émigrées to Paris, they frequented Gertrude Stein's salons where they met such luminaries as Picasso and Matisse.  
 
 
  Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was an American-born modernist writer as well as half of an iconic lesbian couple. She and her partner Alice B. Toklas, both American expatriates, hosted a Parisian salon that attracted some of the most prominent artists, writers, and intellectuals of the era including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Thornton Wilder, and Natalie Clifford Barney.  
 
 
  Renee Vivien Renée Vivien (1877-1909), an English-born writer, is often remembered for her dramatic life and turbulent affair with Natalie Clifford Barney, but she was an astoundingly prolific author in her own right. Among many other achievements, Vivien almost single-handedly reclaimed Sappho as a lesbian.  
 
 
  Thelma Wood (1901-1970) is best known for her affair with Djuna Barnes, as depicted in Barnes's classic novel Nightwood (1936), but was herself an artist. Originally a sculptor, she also practiced the obscure craft of silverpoint drawing.  
 
 
 

 
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