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Papers of Gertrude Stein and Her Circle


Papers of Gertrude Stein and Her Circle
Stein, Gertrude, and Her Circle
Collection number:
0.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Literature and Rare Books
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was an American-born poet, novelist, and playwright who lived for a time in Baltimore, Maryland, but spent most of her life in France and England. The collection consists of correspondence, biographical materials, work papers, and photographs and is mostly in French. Significant figures represented include Georges Hugnet, Georges Maratier, Jacques Stettiner, John Boulton, Bernard Fry, and Pablo Picasso.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Papers of Gertrude Stein and Her Circle, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Gertrude Stein was born on February 3, 1874, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She was the last of seven children of Daniel and Amelia Keyser Stein. Shortly after she was born, the Stein family moved to Europe for four years, later settling in Oakland, California. She attended public school in California until the age of seventeen. By 1891, both parents had died; Gertrude, her brother Leo, and her sister Bertha, moved to Baltimore to stay with their eldest brother, Michael, and his family. Gertrude Stein entered Radcliffe College in the fall of 1893 graduating four years later. She decided upon a medical career and entered the John Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, in summer 1897. Gertrude Stein became bored with medical school, and, failing to receive a passing grade in a minor course at the end of her fourth year, she moved to Florence, Italy, to stay with her brother Leo for the summer. For two years, she traveled back and forth to Europe and in 1903 finally settled with Leo at 27, Rue de Fleurus, in Paris.

It was in Paris that Gertrude Stein became a writer. Although she had written technical papers during her college years, she made her first step as a writer with the completion of Q.E.D. (1903). During forty-three years in Paris, Stein produced and promoted her poems, plays, novels, and "word-portraits." Despite difficulty in having her work published, Stein managed to build a small audience. She wrote and published Q.E.D., The Good Anna, Melanctha, and The Gentle Lena during her first three years in Paris. The last three were later published under the collective title of Three Lives (1915). During this period, she posed for her famous portrait by Pablo Picasso. She purchased works by Picasso, Matisse, Robert Delaunay, and Juan Gris, and she became acquainted with writers Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob. Between 1906 and 1910, Gertrude Stein worked on her epic, The Making of Americans, which was not published until 1925. In 1910, Alice B. Toklas, Stein's "wife" moved to 27, Rue de Fleurus to join Stein and her brother Leo. She played the roles of lover, cook, housekeeper, gardener, typist, and editor in Stein's life. In 1913, Leo and Gertrude Stein had a disagreement regarding Picasso's later works and decided to separate. Leo moved to a small town near Florence essentially ending their relationship.

In 1914, Stein and Toklas, stranded in England during the World War I for about eleven weeks, offered their services to the American Fund for French Wounded. Later, they returned to France to continue efforts to have Stein's work published in England as well as France. It was during this period Stein wrote many portraits of her friends; among them were those of Sherwood Anderson and Carl Van Vechten. In 1926, she published her lectures from Oxford and Cambridge in a volume entitled Composition as Explanation. The Life and Death of Juan Gris was published in 1927, shortly after his death as a tribute to his memory. That same year Virgil Thompson, an American composer, completed musical settings for Stein's Capital, Capitals and began work on Four Saints in Three Acts and Opera. In the late 1920s Stein met Georges Maratier at a tea given by a mutual friend, Bravig Imbs. Maratier, a businessman, owned an art gallery in Paris and was perhaps one of her closest friends during the 1930s. In 1929, Stein and Toklas rented a seventeenth-century villa in Bilignin where they spent their summers entertaining friends; previously their summers were spent at the nearby town of Belley. Maratier, who often visited Stein and Toklas at their homes in Paris and at Bilignin, frequently advised Stein on personal and business matters. Their relationship which lasted for eleven years often involved a mutual friend and publisher, Georges Hugnet. As Stein's publisher in the early 1930s publishing under the imprint "Edition de La Montagne," Georges Hugnet helped publish Morceaux Choisis de la Fabrication des Americans (1930) and Dix Portraits (1930) both in English and in French. From the late 1920s through the 1930s the correspondence among Georges Maratier, Georges Hugnet, and Gertrude Stein focused on these publications. In the fall of 1930, Stein's relationship with Georges Hugnet ended as a result of a quarrel concerning equal billing in Enfances. That same year Stein and Toklas initiated the "Plain Edition" publishing company. Several editions appeared under the "Plain Edition" imprint, such as Lucy Church Amiably (1930) and Before the Flowers of Friendship Faded Friendship Faded (1930). The latter is a limited edition of Stein's English work translated by Georges Hugnet before their dispute. For three years Stein and Toklas continued their publication efforts and managed to publish most of Stein's most hermetic works; unfortunately all of the volumes were unsuccessful.

In the summer of 1932, Gertrude Stein wrote The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). She realized a lifetime ambition when it was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1933. On October 17, 1934, with the help of Toklas and Maratier, she sailed for a six-month tour in the U.S. While in the U.S., Stein was relentlessly interviewed and photographed. She delivered numerous lectures at the Colony Club, Harvard University, University of Virginia, and many other colleges on the East Coast. Despite Stein's busy schedule, she managed to write a series of six weekly articles in the spring of 1935. While in the U.S., Stein met publisher Bennet Cerf of Random House. He helped her publishPortraits and Papers (1934), Lectures in America (1935), and her account of her U.S. tour, Everybody's Autobiography (1937). On May 4, 1935, she sailed from New York to Paris aboard the "Champlain."

On the eve of World War II, Stein published Picasso (1938), as homage to her friend. In that same year, Stein and Toklas relocated to 5, Rue Christine, not far from their old home. Stein was convinced that there would not be a full scale war. When France entered the war in September 1939, they remained in Unoccupied France, despite the obvious dangers. Her relationship with Bernard Fay during this period was especially important. As head of the Bibliotheque Nationale in France, he offered her some protection. In 1940, Paris, France, her tribute to France, was published. In 1943, Stein and Toklas moved from Bilignin to Culoz. They maintained a quiet life, often having to endure fuel and food shortages. In December 1944, Stein and Toklas returned to Paris to find that Stein's valuable art collection was still intact. In 1945, while visiting Brussels, Stein suffered intestinal trouble which later proved to be cancer. She lapsed into a coma after a cancer operation and died July 27, 1946, at the American Hospital in Neuilly. Gertrude Stein is buried in Paris in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Papers of Gertrude Stein and her Circle contain a contract, a handbill, correspondence and literary materials collectively dating from 1909 to 1956. The collection consists of letters to Gertrude Stein, two invitation cards from Gertrude Stein to Pablo Picasso, and letters and postcards from Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas to Georges Maratier. Also included are letters from Georges Hugnet to Georges Maratier and his wife Florence. Some of the letters sent to Maratier are personal in nature while others involve business matters. The letters and postcards sent to Maratier provide a glimpse into Stein's daily life, her writings, and her 1934 U.S. tour. Other literary materials included are works by Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The papers of Gertrude Stein and her Circle were purchased from the House of Books in New York in the early 1970s.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by: Irmina Ulysse, May 1993

Processing note:

The collection contains correspondence to and from Gertrude Stein and her friends, which had been packed in three boxes. Correspondence related to the Gertrude Stein collection was removed from an unprocessed grouping called "Literary Manuscripts and Related Material" and arranged into series I, II, III, and IV according to document type, author, and date. To some extent, the collection's original order has been maintained, particularly the letters from Gertrude Stein to Georges Maratier and the Alice B. Toklas correspondence. Postcards, telegrams, and literary works by Gertrude Stein and her friends, which were originally interfiled according to type of correspondence, have been removed and filed according to date in series I, and by author in series II and III, and by title in series IV. Paper clips have been removed from the material, and letters have been removed from envelopes and flattened. The collection has been placed in acid-free folders and put into an acid-free box.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Lara D'Agaro, September 2007.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Biographical material, writings, and correspondence of Gertrude Stein, 1909-1939 and undated (2.5 linear inch)

This series consists of a biographical sketch of Gertrude Stein (undated), A French Businessman's Admiration of Gertrude Stein written by Georges Maratier in 1933, a 1930 French translation of Stein's work Composition as Explanation (1926) done by Georges Hugnet, correspondence to and from Gertrude Stein (1909-1938), a contract drawn by Virgil Thompson and sent to Stein, and an autographed handbill signed by Mme. Apollinaire (1938); the handbill was for a show in honor of Guillaume Apollinaire. The letters to Gertrude Stein from Virgil Thompson, Georges Maratier, and Jean Bouleon primarily dealt with business affairs involving Stein. Included in the series are 115 letters, telegrams and postcards from Gertrude Stein to Georges Maratier and Florence Maratier. They include both personal and business correspondence dealing with various issues. She often mentions Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, M. and Mme. Apollinaire, Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, Bravig Imbs and Georges Hugnet. The documents have been arranged alphabetically by document type.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Autographed handbill, 1938 series 1box 1folder 1
Biographical material about Gertrude Stein, 1933 and undated series 1box 1folder 2
Biographical material about Gertrude Stein, 1933 and undated series 1box 1folder 3
Composition Comme Explanation, 1930 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1909 series 1box 1folder 5
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1927 series 1box 1folder 6
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1928 series 1box 1folder 7
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1929 series 1box 1folder 8
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1930 series 1box 1folder 9
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1931 series 1box 1folder 10
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1932 series 1box 1folder 11
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1933 series 1box 1folder 12
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1935 series 1box 1folder 13
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1934 series 1box 1folder 14
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1936 series 1box 1folder 15
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1937 series 1box 1folder 16
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1938 series 1box 1folder 17
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1920s series 1box 1folder 18
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1930s series 1box 1folder 19
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, 1934, 1935, 1939 series 1box 1folder 20
Correspondence from Gertrude Stein, undated series 1box 1folder 21
Correspondence to Gertrude Stein, 1931, 1938 series 1box 1folder 22

Series 2: Correspondence of Alice B. Toklas, 1928-1956 (0.125 linear inch)

This series consists of letters from Alice B. Toklas to Georges Maratier and to Lawrence Scott dating from 1928 to 1939. Georges Maratier was a close friend of both Stein and Toklas during the late 1920s and 1930s. Letters written between 1928 and 1931 are addressed informally; later the salutation and content of the letters are more formal. Unlike the earlier letters, the letters written to Maratier from 1934 on deal with the issues of Gertrude Stein's U.S. tour and other business matters. Also included in this series is a letter from Toklas to Lawrence Scott in 1956 and a brief note by her written in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The documents have been arranged in chronological order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Personal correspondence, 1928-1956 series 2box 1folder 23

Series 3: Correspondence received by Georges and Florence Maratier, 1929- 1938 (0.5 linear inch)

This series consists of thirty-six letters from Georges Hugnet to Georges Maratier dating from 1929 to 1931 and a letter to Florence Maratier. Georges Hugnet, Stein's publisher in the early 1930s wrote to Georges Maratier to discuss both business and personal issues involving Gertrude Stein. The letters written to Florence Maratier are personal and discuss visits made by Georges Hugnet to the Maratiers' home in Paris. Included in this series are letters from Bernard Fay and Jacques Stetting to Georges Maratier (1935-1938), which are personal in nature. The letters are arranged in chronological order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence received by Georges and Florence Maratier, 1929-1938 series 3box 1folder 24
Correspondence received by Georges and Florence Maratier, 1930s series 3box 1folder 25

Series 4: Writings of Virgil Thompson, c. 1930 (0.125 linear inch)

This series includes the following three works by Virgil Thompson: Conduite D'eau in Thompson's handwriting with corrections made by Gertrude Stein, (before 1930), Hand of Pieces in Dix Portraits (before 1930), and Musique et Photographie (before 1930). They have been arranged in alphabetical order by title.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Conduite D'eau, before 1930 series 4box 1folder 26
Hand of Pieces in Dix Portraits, before 1930 series 4box 1folder 27
Musique et Photographie, before 1930 series 4box 1folder 28

Related Material

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