Modernist writer Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 1874. Stein moved to Paris in 1903, embarking on a literary career that made Tender Buttons and Three Lives, along with work coping with gay themes. Stein was also a prolific art collector as well as the host of a salon that contained expatriate writers Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson and Ezra Pound. Gertude Stein was an innovative, powerful writer in the 20th century. The daughter of a rich merchant, she spent her early years in Europe with her family. The Steins afterwards settled in Oakland, California. Stein graduated from Radcliffe College in 1898 having a bachelor’s degree. While at the school, Stein studied psychology under William James (and would continue substantially affected by his thoughts). She went to study medicine in the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical School.
In 1903, Gertrude Stein moved to Paris, France, to be with her brother, Leo, where they started gathering Post Impressionist paintings, thus helping several top artists including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. She and Leo created a well-known literary and artistic salon at 27 rue de Fleurus. Leo moved to Florence, Italy, in 1912, taking most of the paintings with him. Toklas and Stein would become lifelong companies.
Meant to apply the techniques of abstraction and Cubism in prose, much of her work was almost unintelligible to even well-informed readers. She also lectured in England in 1926 and released her only commercial success, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), which she composed from Toklas’s point of view.
Gertrude Stein made a successful lecture tour of America in 1934, but returned to France, where she’d live during the Second World War. Following the liberation of Paris in 1944, she was seen by many Americans. Gertrude Stein expired on July 27, 1946, in Neuilly sur Seine, France. Though essential opinion is split on Stein’s various writings, the mark of her powerful, witty character lives, as does her influence on modern literature.