WINNER OF THE POLARI BOOK PRIZE
This is the extraordinary story of how a singular group of women in a pivotal time and place – Paris, between the wars – fostered the birth of the Modernist movement.
Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein. A trailblazing publisher; a patron of artists; a society hostess; a groundbreaking writer.
They were all women who loved women. They rejected the patriarchy and made lives of their own – forming a community around them in Paris.
Each of these four central women interacted with a myriad of others, some of the most influential, most entertaining, most shocking and most brilliant figures of the age. Diana Souhami weaves together their stories to create a vivid moving tapestry of life among the Modernists in pre-war Paris.
Diana Souhami was brought up in London and studied philosophy at Hull University. She has published biographies of Gluck, Gertrude Stein, Alice Keppel, Radclyffe Hall, Romaine Brooks and Edith Cavell. Her biography of Alexander Selkirk, Selkirk's Island, won the Whitbread Biography Award.
"Souhami has covered lesbian lives before, and with prodigious energy. Her biographies of artistic and literary lesbians comprise a magnificent, important archive of queer history. . . . With No Modernism Without Lesbians she stops dancing around the point – the point being the importance of lesbian creative contributions to modern culture – and goes straight for the jugular. Forget Hemingway, Joyce, Pound, and all those other misogynistic male egos. Without lesbians, there would be no modernism. The women featured here were not the only ones responsible for supporting and facilitating the modernist movement, but they each played a hugely integral role. . . . No Modernism Without Lesbians, with its accessible, sprightly and engaging prose, is a delight and a must-read. With impeccable scholarship and a vibrant narrative, she explores the lives not just of these four women but of the dozens of other lesbians whose stories are part of their stories. Souhami writes with love for her subjects, which is contagious and brings them vibrantly to life, and makes the book an important and inspiring contribution to modernist and lesbian culture in its own right." —Pop Matters