Gertrude and Alice

Published by Rivers Oram on 20th February 1992

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were central to cultural and literary life in Paris in the 1920s. They became a legendary couple, photographed by Man Ray and Cecil Beaton, painted by Picasso and written about in the memoirs of Hemingway. Alice, from her first meeting with Gertrude, was convinced she was in the presence of genius. She deferred to her, cooked for her, typed her manuscripts and fought to obtain the fame she was convinced was Gertrude’s due.

They were indomitable, charismatic, and a sight to be seen, driving around in “Auntie” their Ford, with Basket their cherished poodle. Alice said Gertrude was the happiest person she had ever known, “She held my complete attention for all the many years I knew her until her death and all those empty ones since”.

From letters, memoirs and the published writings of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Diana Souhami reconstructs the story of their unshakeable marriage and their unique selves, “so emphatically and uncompromising themselves that the world cound do nothing less than accept them as they were”.