A Woman to Know: Natalie Barney

My queerness is not a vice, and harms no one. — Natalie Barney

(image via Smithsonian Institution)


They called her "The Amazon," the "Sapphic Idyll" and even "Queen of the Lesbians." Seriously — in France in the early 1900s. She hosted weekly salons, called "Fridays," at her longtime pied a terre on the Rue Jacob, where she lived as an expatriate writer with famous lovers like Renee Viviane and Romaine Brooks,. Notable guests included Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Isadora Duncan, Zelda Fitzgerald (with F. Scott, of course) and that whole Left Bank set. Her salacious love life and free-spirited ways inspired "The Well of Loneliness," the first famous lesbian novel to scandalize readers back home.

Natalie lived to be 100 years old, still writing poems and causing scandals well into her old age. She even wrote her own epitaph: "I am this legendary being in which I will live again."

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