Pratt Institute, 200 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205, Stati Uniti
173 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France
Place Saint-Sulpice, 75006 Paris, France
Patchin Place, Patchin Pl, New York, NY 10011, Stati Uniti
Djuna Barnes (June 12, 1892 – June 18, 1982) was an American writer and artist best known for her novel Nightwood (1936), a cult classic of lesbian fiction and an important work of modernist literature.
In 1913, Barnes began her career as a freelance journalist and illustrator for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. By early 1914, Barnes was a highly sought feature reporter, interviewer, and illustrator whose work appeared in the city’s leading newspapers and periodicals. Later, Barnes’ talent and connections with prominent Greenwich Village bohemians afforded her the opportunity to publish her prose, poems, illustrations, and one-act plays in both avant-garde literary journals and popular magazines, and publish an illustrated volume of poetry, The Book of Repulsive Women (1915).
In 1921, a lucrative commission with McCall’s magazine took Barnes to Paris, where she lived for the next ten years. In this period she published A Book (1923), a collection of poetry, plays, and short stories, which was later reissued, with the addition of three stories, as A Night Among the Horses (1929), Ladies Almanack (1928), and Ryder (1928).
During the 1930s, Barnes spent time in England, Paris, New York, and North Africa. It was during this restless time that she wrote and published Nightwood. In October 1939, after nearly two decades living mostly in Europe, Barnes returned to New York. She published her last major work, the verse play The Antiphon, in 1958, and she died in her apartment at Patchin Place, Greenwich Village in June 1982.
The most important relationship of Barnes' Paris years was with the artist Thelma Wood. Wood was a Kansas native who had come to Paris to become a sculptor, but at Barnes' suggestion took up silverpoint instead, producing drawings of animals and plants that one critic compared to Henri Rousseau. By the winter of 1922 they had set up housekeeping together in a flat on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Another close friendship that developed during this time was with the Dada artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, with whom Barnes began an intensive correspondence in 1923. “Where Wood gave Barnes a doll as a gift to represent their symbolic love child, the Baroness proposed an erotic marriage whose love-child would be their book.” From Paris, Barnes supported the Baroness in Berlin with money, clothing, and magazines. She also collected the Baroness’s poems and letters.
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