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No Modernism Without Lesbians
No Modernism Without Lesbians

No Modernism Without Lesbians


464 Pages, 5.08 x 7.8

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $15.95 (US $15.95) (CA $20.95)

Publication Date: May 2021

ISBN 9781786694874

Rights: US & CA

Head of Zeus US (May 2021)
Head of Zeus

Price: $15.95


WINNER OF THE POLARI BOOK PRIZE This is the extraordinary story of how a singular group of women in a pivotal time and place – Paris, between the wars – fostered the birth of the Modernist movement.Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein. A trailblazing publisher; a patron of artists; a society hostess; a groundbreaking writer.They were all women who loved women. They rejected the patriarchy and made lives of their own – forming a community around them in Paris.Each of these four central women interacted with a myriad of others, some of the most influential, most entertaining, most shocking and most brilliant figures of the age. Diana Souhami weaves together their stories to create a vivid moving tapestry of life among the Modernists in pre-war Paris. 


"Souhami has covered lesbian lives before, and with prodigious energy. Her biographies of artistic and literary lesbians comprise a magnificent, important archive of queer history. . . . With No Modernism Without Lesbians she stops dancing around the point – the point being the importance of lesbian creative contributions to modern culture – and goes straight for the jugular. Forget Hemingway, Joyce, Pound, and all those other misogynistic male egos. Without lesbians, there would be no modernism. The women featured here were not the only ones responsible for supporting and facilitating the modernist movement, but they each played a hugely integral role. . . . No Modernism Without Lesbians, with its accessible, sprightly and engaging prose, is a delight and a must-read. With impeccable scholarship and a vibrant narrative, she explores the lives not just of these four women but of the dozens of other lesbians whose stories are part of their stories. Souhami writes with love for her subjects, which is contagious and brings them vibrantly to life, and makes the book an important and inspiring contribution to modernist and lesbian culture in its own right." —Pop Matters

"Souhami has written several fine biographies. . .Now, in a comprehensive cultural history, she awards lesbians the credit for modernising art, manners and morals in the early twentieth century" —Observer

''Souhami is one of our most rewarding and inventive biographers, and this book is a splendidly hectic and vivid read ... If No Modernism Without Lesbians goes some way towards making us understand how they thought of themselves, and what they did, it will have done some good" —Spectator

"Souhami challenges the Modernist canon that has dominated cultural education at their expense, foregrounding instead great men and their muses. . .No Modernism Without Lesbians is important for 2020 because it rips apart the prevailing patriarchal model. What Souhami calls for is abandoning the Modernist canon and rebuilding it one lesbian at a time to create a new, inclusive, 21st-century model." —Gay & Lesbian Review

"Fascinating and thorough. In style, substance, insight and wit it is by far the best thing anyone has written on the fateful life of Radclyffe Hall." —Jeanette Winterson on The Trials of Radclyffe Halle

"Subverts expectations . . . Souhami invents a complex narcissistic interior life for Gwendolen, and she does it with a rhythm of observation and language that stand proudly beside the original." ―The New York Times Book Review on Gwendolen

"Perfect for fans of books about identity, art, biographies." —

"Perfect for fans of books about identity, art, biographies." —   

Author Biography

Diana Souhami was brought up in London and studied philosophy at Hull University. She has published biographies of Gluck, Gertrude Stein, Alice Keppel, Radclyffe Hall, Romaine Brooks and Edith Cavell. Her biography of Alexander Selkirk, Selkirk's Island, won the Whitbread Biography Award.