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September 10, 2019
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Gertrude Stein Has Arrived

The Homecoming of a Literary Legend

In 1933, experimental writer and longtime expatriate Gertrude Stein skyrocketed to overnight fame with the publication of an unlikely best seller, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Pantomiming the voice of her partner Alice, The Autobiography was actually Gertrude's work. But whoever the real author was, the uncharacteristically lucid and readable book won over the hearts of thousands of Americans, whose clamor to meet Gertrude and Alice in person convinced them to return to America for the first time in thirty years from their self-imposed exile in France.

For more than six months, Gertrude and Alice crisscrossed America, from New England to California, from Minnesota to Texas, stopping at thirty-seven different cities along the way. They had tea with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, attended a star-studded dinner party at Charlie Chaplin's home in Beverly Hills, enjoyed fifty-yard-line seats at the annual Yale-Dartmouth football game, and rode along with a homicide detective through the streets of Chicago. They met with the Raven Society in Edgar Allan Poe's old room at the University of Virginia, toured notable Civil War battlefields, and ate Oysters Rockefeller for the first time at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans. Everywhere they went, they were treated like everyone's favorite maiden aunts—colorful, eccentric, and eminently quotable.

In Gertrude Stein Has Arrived, noted literary biographer Roy Morris Jr. recounts with characteristic energy and wit the couple's rollicking tour, revealing how—much to their surprise—they rediscovered their American roots after three decades of living abroad. Entertaining and sympathetic, this clear-eyed account captures Gertrude Stein for the larger-than-life legend she was and shows the unique relationship she had with her indefatigable companion, Alice B. Toklas—the true power behind the throne.

About the Author

Roy Morris Jr. is the author of eight books, including Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company, Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America, and American Vandal: Mark Twain Abroad.

Reviewss

"... Morris succeeds in describing a time when an experimental writer could become a celebrity. Accessible and engaging, this fresh look at Stein's life is especially recommended for those interested in modernist literature."

- Library Journal

"An entertaining and fast-paced chronicle of Gertrude Stein's seven-month American tour in the fall and winter of 1934–1935... Drawing on contemporaneous newspaper stories and on firsthand accounts, Morris captures the excitement of the period when a cult avant-garde author found herself a national celebrity... Morris's lively account provides a window onto an enchanting chapter of modernist literary history."

- Publishers Weekly

Endorsementss

"In 1934, iconoclastic writer Gertrude Stein and her lifelong companion Alice Toklas arrived in America to promote Stein's witty, gossipy The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, a book that, to their surprise and delight, had become a huge success. Morris makes their nearly seven-month, cross-country journey central to his own witty, gossipy biography of the two eccentric ex-pats. Stein returned home to Paris in love with America; Morris's brisk, zesty tale shows us why."

- Linda Simon, author of The Biography of Alice B. Toklas

"In a remarkably concise and eloquent work, Roy Morris captures a vital cultural occasion when it seemed that all of America bounced to Gertrude Stein's beat. This fascinating story of Stein's barnstorming tour of the United States offers a lively and sympathetic exploration of art, literature, and celebrity at the moment when Modernism entered the mainstream."

- David S. Brown, author of Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Morris's remarkable, wonderfully written study observes Gertrude Stein engaging with all kinds of Americans on her Depression tour of the U.S.—from a future tattooist of the Hell's Angels to an eighteen-year-old interviewer named Walter Cronkite. This revelatory account is studded with pop cultural gems that appealed to Stein's restless temperament. Along the way, she visited a dance marathon at dawn; she delighted in a billboard exhorting, 'Buy your meat and wheat in Georgia'; she autographed a hazelnut for a young Scottie Fitzgerald. Roy Morris brings Stein's tour to vivid, incandescent life. Welcome back, Gertrude Stein!"

- Mary V. Dearborn, author of Ernest Hemingway: A Biography

"A terrifically well-written and consistently engaging account of the lecture tour that Gertrude Stein undertook to promote her unlikely hit, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas."

- Kathryn Hughes, author of Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
Johns Hopkins University Press
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