Devoted, eccentric, and compelling, Gertrude and Leo Stein were constant companions, from childhood to adulthood, until, finally, they spoke no more. Americans, expatriates, and virtually orphans, they lived together for almost forty years, collaborating in one of the great artistic and literary adventures of the twentieth century. Sister Brother tells the story of that adventure and relationship. With a personality that drew people toward her—regardless of what they thought of her inventive, hermetic prose—Gertrude Stein dazzled and perplexed. Enigmatic, intelligent, and self-absorbed, Leo also dazzled but in his own way. One of the crucial figures in Gertrude’s early years, he was the original guiding spirit of the famed salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, which continued for almost two decades. From her early days as a medical student to her first days in Paris, Gertrude was passionately driven toward the career in which she distinguished herself, demanding appreciation as an exceptional writer who knew precisely what she intended. This book shows how Gertrude slowly struggled with what became a unique voice—and why her brother spurned it.
With its wealth of new and rare material, its reconstruction of Leo’s famed art collection, and its array of characters—from Bernard Berenson to Pablo Picasso—this biography offers the first glimpse into the smoldering sibling relationship that helped form two of the twentieth century’s most unusual figures.
“Ms. Wineapple does an impressive job of setting down the facts of the Steins' eventful lives. . . . [An] ambitious biography.”—New York Times Book Review
“Wineapple tells a dramatically compelling story; her analysis is insightful, her meticulous documentation unobtrusive. She has written an absorbing account of two extraordinary siblings.”—Washington Post Book World
“Brenda Wineapple brilliantly disentwines the record of Stein's life from the image of it that Stein and her allies created. . . . Wineapple's narrative is fluent and clear . . . fascinating.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Wineapple illuminates the distinct and tremendously influential personalities of Gertrude and Leo Stein as well as the intricate nature of their intense but doomed relationship.”—Booklist
“Drawing on rich archival sources, and interpreting them judiciously and sensitively, Wineapple gives us a fresh picture of Stein, many of her relatives, and especially the sibling to whom she was closest: her brilliant, intense brother Leo.”—Linda Simon, Boston Globe
“Sister Brother is a beautifully even-handed and penetrating treatment. This biography is indispensable for students of Gertrude Stein and of modernism, and will be a delight to lovers of art and to all those interested in what Wineapple calls ‘the romance of families.’”—Toronto Globe and Mail
“A riveting joint profile of Gertrude and Leo Stein. . . . A wild, Fauve-like canvas of a time before emotional color was muted by Prozac.”—M. G. Lord, Elle
“Wineapple’s book explores their partnership with humour and panache. Not the least of its virtues is that, while paying ample homage to Gertrude, it does justice perhaps for the first time at length and in detail, to Leo. . . . Scrupulous, sensitive, marvellous.”—Daily Telegraph
“A rewarding read.”—Guardian
“Brenda Wineapple could have called this book ‘Scenes from a Marriage’. . . . An absorbing picture.”—Chicago Tribune
“A luminous, harrowing achievement for which all students of literature and art, as well as of families, are in Brenda Wineapple's debt.”—Richard Howard
“Brenda Wineapple’s meticulous, scholarly, and affectionate double biography of Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo gives us the fascinating story of two glorious animals.”—Patricia Bosworth