Stein (1874-1946) - Toklas (1877-1967)

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."

- Gertrude Stein

"This has been a most wonderful evening. Gertrude has said things tonight it will take her 10 years to understand."

- Alice B. Toklas

Stein and Toklas were American writers who spent most of their lives in France where they became extremely influential in the development of modern art and literature. Together they hosted a Paris salon that attracted well-known members of the avant-garde artistic and literary world. Among their numerous colleagues, friends and patrons were Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Thornton Wilder, Ernest Hemingway, Georges Braque, André Derain, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Rousseau, Sherwood Anderson and Ezra Pound. “Everybody brought somebody,” Stein wrote, “and they came at any time… it was in this way that Saturday evenings began." Stein was an acclaimed modernist writer known for challenging conventional understandings of genre, narration and form. Toklas, a fierce advocate of Stein’s work, encouraged her to write The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), which brought the two women international recognition. Shifting between biography, autobiography and memoir Stein was able to obscure the exact nature of her relationship with Toklas while telling the colorful story of the life they shared. Two well-known lesbian Jews, Stein and Toklas remained in France and survived both World Wars thanks to the protection afforded them by having made friends in high-places - at a price many have speculated may have included selling out French Jews in exchange for a guarantee of their own safety in the heart of fascism... an indelible dark stain on an otherwise striking personal history. Stein died at the age of 72 from stomach cancer in 1946. Toklas, who penned the famous Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954), spent the remainder of her life protecting and promoting Stein’s legacy until her own death in 1967. They are interred in Paris in the Père Lachaise cemetery where they share a grave and a headstone.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White Jewish

Faith Construct Judaic

Nations Affiliated United States France

Era/Epoch First-wave Feminism (1848-1930) Great Depression (1929-1939) Jazz Age (1910-1940) Roaring Twenties (1920-1929) World War I (1914-1918) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution





Commemorations & Honors

Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Political Organization Founded in San Francisco (1971)

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Renamed a Block of Myrtle Street in San Francisco as Alice B. Toklas Place Since Toklas Was Born One Block Away on O’Farrell Street (1989)

Gertrude Stein Statue in New York City’s Bryant Park (1992)

Inaugural San Francisco Rainbow Honor Walk Honoree for Stein (2014)


Related Videos


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell