Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Alice B. Toklas.

A rose may be a rose may be a rose, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, but there was only one Alice B. Toklas, Stein's longtime companion, muse, editor, critic, cook and domestic helpmeet, who was born in San Francisco on this day in 1877.  She met Stein in Paris twenty years later, on the day she arrived in the city where they set up salon-keeping.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was actually Stein's memoir, published in 1933.  After Stein's death in 1946 Toklas began publishing; she needed the money.  Although the Stein estate included art by modernists like Picasso, the same sex relationship had no legal status, and Stein's relatives moved to claim the collection. 

In 1954, Toklas published The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, which contained a recipe for hashish fudge, and thus the "Alice B. Toklas brownie" was born.  She published a second cookbook and her actual autobiography in 1963.  Still, she died in poverty in 1967 and was buried next to Stein in a Paris graveyard.

Andrea Weiss's Paris Was A Women, about the women of the Left Bank in the 20s, ends with a 1961 letter from Toklas to Janet Flanner, which itself ends with: 

...Paris and the French still seduce me.  Love love love Alice.

No comments:

Post a Comment