This Week in History


Death of Gertrude Stein

July 27, 1946
Gertrude Stein
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Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Carl Van Vechten, 1935.

The American modernist writer Gertrude Stein died on July 27, 1946, at the American Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Stein was an international celebrity, while remaining an artistic iconoclast. She also nourished scores of other writers, artists, and musicians in her salon in Paris.

As Linda Simon writes in her biography of Stein in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, “Stein sought in Paris a liberation from the strictures of American society that made her feel like an outcast. In a community of artists and writers who were trying to invent a new language in painting, poetry, and prose, Stein was able to create her own identity as a literary pioneer. In a community that accepted and even affirmed a wide range of sexual identities, Stein did not need to fear censure.”

She experimented with a unique approach to language and repetition, often utilizing the technique she called the “continuous present” to explore the “bottom nature” of her friends, family, and herself. Her most famous works are the memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and the opera The Mother of Us All, which celebrates the life and work of Susan B. Anthony. Her determination to express herself through constant innovation and to support and encourage a community of like-minded artists is her legacy to the creative spirit.

To learn more about Gertrude Stein, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: This Week in History for June 1, 1933, "Gertrude Stein publishes Alice B. Toklas Autoiography"; "Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: A new look into the lives of the Cone sisters" and "Forget Barbie; Dress Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Instead" Jewesses With Attitude; Gertrude Stein in the Virtual Archive.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Death of Gertrude Stein." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <>.