Natalie Clifford Barney
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Her salon, held at her home on Paris's Left Bank for more than 60 years, brought together writers and artists from around the world, including many of the leading figures in French literature as well as the American and British Modernists of the Lost Generation. She worked to promote writing by women, forming a "Women's Academy" in response to the all-male French Academy, while also providing support and inspiration to male writers from Remy de Gourmont to Truman Capote.
She was openly lesbian and began publishing love poems to women under her own name as early as 1900, considering scandal "the best way of getting rid of nuisances". In her writings she supported feminism, paganism, and pacifism. She opposed monogamy and had many overlapping long- and short-term relationships, including an on-and-off romance with poet Renée Vivien and a 50-year relationship with painter Romaine Brooks. Her life and love affairs served as inspiration for many novels, ranging from the salacious French bestseller Sapphic Idyll to The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most famous lesbian novel of the 20th century. Nathalie Barney (1876-1972), also known as Natalie Barney, was a American heiress who became well known as the mistress of a literary salon in France.
Her literary career began as a result of her friendship with poet Rémy de Gourmont, who gave her the nickname "The Amazon." It was well known that she was homosexual, and she had affairs with a number of the celebrities of the day, including actress Liane de Pougy and poet Renée Vivien. She published several books, of verse, drama, and her memoirs.
But it was as the keeper of a weekly Friday salon that she is best remembered. Cultural celebrities as varied as Auguste Rodin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Colette, James Joyce, Paul Valéry, the Sitwell siblings, Pierre Louys, Anatole France, Count Robert de Montesquiou, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Somerset Maugham, T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, Isadora Duncan, Ezra Pound, Virgil Thomson, Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, André Gide, William Carlos Williams, Djuna Barnes, George Antheil, Janet Flanner, Nancy Cunard, Peggy Guggenheim, Mina Loy, Caresse and Harry Crosby, Marie Laurencin, Oscar Milosz, Paul Claudel, Adrienne Monnier, Sylvia Beach, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Hart Crane, Alan Seeger, Mary McCarthy, Truman Capote, Françoise Sagan, and Marguerite Yourcenar were among her guests.