Featured Novelist from Special Collections: Gertrude Stein

Nanowrimo bannerNaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – occurs annually every November. Each week this November, we wrote a post to celebrate the life of a novelist represented in the University of Maryland Special Collections. This is our last post for 2012, but we encourage any readers to continue their research of these fantastic writers–whether that research takes place in the Special Collections at Hornbake Library, or curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good novel, is entirely up to you!

This week’s novelist is Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946). Novels by this prolific author include Three Lives, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress,
and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Stein also wrote A Novel of Thank You, an exploration of the author’s process of writing a novel, and essay Composition as Explanation to explain the theory behind her writing.

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, with American flag as backdrop. 1935. Carl Van Vechten, photographer. Carl Van Vechten Collection, Library of Congress. (from Credo Reference)

About Gertrude Stein:
(From ArchivesUM and The Poetry Foundation)

  • Stein was born in Pennsylvania and lived in both California and Baltimore; however, her writing career began in Paris.
  • During Stein’s college years at Harvard Annex/Radcliffe College, she studied psychology under William James and published two research papers in the Harvard Psychological Review.
  • Stein had significant connections to the art world, and her home in Paris regularly hosted modernist writers and painters. Pablo Picasso is a frequent visitor and correspondent.
  • In The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter, Porter describes Stein’s writing as  “a great spiral, a slow, ever-widening, unmeasured spiral unrolling itself horizontally. The people in this world appear to be motionless at every stage of their progress, each one is simultaneously being born, arriving at all ages and dying. You perceive that it is a world without mobility, everything takes place, has taken place, will take place; therefore nothing takes place, all at once.”

Resources about Gertrude Stein:

Papers of Gertrude Stein and Her Circle, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

First Appearances Collection, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

Caricatures of Mina Loy, Marsden Hartley, and Gertrude Stein, from the New York Tribune, November 4, 1923. From the Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Collection. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

 

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