In creating this timeline of Gertrude Stein’s life, I chose to focus on pivotal places, publications, and people with whom she developed relationships. Putting these major events in her life into chronological order helped me make sense of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and made it easier to see where and when scenes occurred. In order to figure out some of the dates for events, I had to do some math and count the number of summers that had passed since so much of her novel based on seasons or calculate the year based off ages and birth dates. I also researched many of the events she mentions so this timeline goes beyond the information presented to us in the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
One of my focuses is on her education at both Radcliffe and Hopkins as to show how well educated she was – Alice Toklas obviously was not the only one who would regard Stein as a genius. Her professors were also convinced that she had great potential and most wanted to pass her even though she didn’t put in much effort, and in one case, even refused to take an exam. I thought it was important to include this event, as she was one class away from earning her MD. Instead she happily refused the offer to finish the class and chose not to become a doctor (which seemed very boring to her). She certainly followed through on that and lived a fairly glamorous and exciting life as she used the money from her trust fund to buy art with her brother and her life took a thrilling twist. With Leo, she met numerous famous artists in Paris and developed great friendships with Matisse, Picasso, and the like. This is a key component of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as it gives an insight into her celebrity – like life and the gossip surrounding such big-name artists. For this reason, her relationships with Matisse and Picasso are included. The most important relationship, however, is of course her relationship with Alice, so their first meeting and when they moved in together are included. The photos show the longevity and closeness of the their relationship.
1874 – Gertrude stein is born in West Allgenhy, Pennsylvannia (but grows up in Oakland, California)
1877 – Alice B. Toklas is born in San Francisco.
1893-1897– Stein attends Radcliffe College (attached to Harvard University) to study psychology under William James.
1900-1903 – Stein’s last two years at Hopkins – where she loses interest in medicine, flunks, and is actually grateful because she doesn’t want to study medicine anymore.
1902 – Leo Stein (her brother) moves to London and she comes with him
1903 – Stein moves to Paris and lives at rue de Fleurus. Here, almost immediately, she begins to write her first short novel (which she forgets about for several years).
1904 – Gertrude and Leo decide to start an art collection using their trust fund. They buy paintings by Matisse and Picasso.
-Winter: Gertrude goes to Vollard’s and is introduced to Cezannes (and his nudes).
-Spring: Stien buys Cezannes’ portrait of a woman (which later influenced Stein to write Three Lives.
-Autumn: Stein attends the first Autumn Salon and soon Stein meets Matisse.
During this time, their apartment is turning into a salon, where people can come and visit their art collection and their social lives appear to include many famous artists.
1905 – Picasso begins his portrait of Stein (calculated if he began the portrait at age 24, given Picasso’s birth at 1881). She has over 90 sittings with him in order to complete this portrait. They become very close friends during this time.
-During this time, Stein also writes Three Lives (which is not published until two years later).
1907 – September 8th – Alice B. Toklas arrives and meets Gertrude.
1910 – Alice B. Toklas moves into Gertrude’s apartment in rue de Fleurus, marking the beginning of their relationship.
1911 – Stein meets Mabel Dodge who promotes Gertrude in the United States.
Later, Stein writes The Potrait of Mabel Dodge and privately publishes copies.
-Summer: Meets with John Lane about Three Lives and The Making of Americans.
1913 – Stein plans and helps to publicize Armory Show (the first avant-garde art show in America), but divides her collection with Leo.
1914 – The Great War begins.
-Kahnweiler’s gallery is auctioned off by the French Government and “the old gang” meets up. His collection basically contains all cubist pictures from the past 3 years before the war.
-Stein and Toklas spend 3 months in England during the war.
1916 – Alice and Gertrude volunteer by driving supplies to French hospitals.
1925 – Stein finally publishes The Making of Americans even though she worked on it years ago.
1926 – Stein gives a lecture at Cambridge and Oxford.
1933 – Publishes “The Autobiography of Alice B. Tolkas.”