The Life of Stein in a Timeline

I created my timeline keeping in mind some of the significant events that occurred in Gertrude Stein’s life (such as where she was born and where she moved throughout her life), while also trying to choose events that reveal more about her character or give insight into what may have shaped her writing. I included her time spent with William James in order to demonstrate how he and his teachings in the field of psychology influenced her train of thought and writing. Also, her prestigious education at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute shows her exploration of the sciences during the most formative years of her life. Another integral event in her life that I included was the permanent settlement of Alice Toklas and Gertrude Stein at rue de Fleurus. This marks the point in Gertrude’s life when Alice “officially” became her life-long companion and partner in supporting the careers of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Gertrude and her relationship with her brother Leo also helped jump start and shape her pursual of the arts. After purchasing her first Cezanne, she begins to write her famous work Three Lives. Three Lives is comprised of three different short stories; one of these that we read in class is called “Melanctha,” a story about a young girl’s internal struggle with finding her place in the world, while she deals with issues relating to love, race, and abandonment. Lastly, another important piece of my timeline is the inclusion of Gertrude’s first portrait of Ada. This portrait is the first of many, in which Gertrude explores the inner workings of a human mind using the power of repetition and rhythm.

Timeline of Events:

1) Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in a twin house with several siblings, then moved to Vienna, Paris, and then back to the states.

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Stein, Gertrude, Gertrude Stein and her brothers (1906). From the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers, Yale University Library.

2) When her parents died, she and her siblings moved to the East Coast. She wrote about Radcliffe in her first story.

3) She worked with Professor William James at Harvard while she was at Radcliffe, on a series of experiments in automatic writing. The result was her first publication, an article in the Harvard Psychological Review. James inspired her to enter Johns Hopkins Medical School. This gave her experience in the sciences.

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Gertrude Stein at Johns Hopkins (1892). Photograph by Unknown photographer. From the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers, Yale University Library.

4) Gertrude and her brother buy a big Cezanne, and it inspires her to write Three Lives.

5) She repeatedly says that her only language is English, and when she moves to Paris being surrounded by French allowed her to have English to herself.

6) Gertrude poses for Pablo Picasso’s painting about 90 times. She collects and promotes both Picasso’s and Matisse’s paintings.

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Gertrude Stein and Picasso (1922). Photograph by Unknown photographer. From the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers, Yale University Library.

7) Alice Toklas moves to Paris and develops a friendship with Picasso and Fernande Olivier.

pablos alice
Pablo, Picasso, Woman with a Fringe (Alice B. Toklas) (New York, Arts Rights Society, 1908). From Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, National Portrait Gallery.

8) 1910- Gertrude Stein first starts writing portraits. It all begins with a portrait called Ada.

9 ) 1910- Alice B. Toklas permanently moves into the Rue de Fleurus.

studio of gertrude
Gertrude Stein’s atelier, 27 rue de Fleurus (1910). Photograph by Unknown photographer. From the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers, Yale University Library.

10)  During the war, Alice and Gertrude take on a military god-son and become very attached to Abel.

hitler gertrude
Gertrude Stein with soldiers on Hitler’s balcony at Berchtesgaden (June, 1945). From the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers, Yale University Library.
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