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Natalie Clifford Barney
(October 31, 1876 - February 2, 1972) U.S.A. - France

Natalie Barney

Writer, heiress & Parisian salon hostess

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Born in Dayton, Ohio and raised in Cincinnati and Washington, the daughter of a successful American industrialist. It was probably Eva Palmer, heiress to the Huntley and Palmers biscuit fortune, who introduced the young Natalie to the delights of both all-female eroticism and Greec culture. From the time she was 19 - in 1895 - she was a flamboyant, open lesbian, eventually becoming known as the "Pope of Lesbos." She was a stunning long-haired blonde who seduced every attractive woman in sight.

Natalie BarneyIn the beginning of the 20th century she moved to Paris. Her lesbianism was made clear to her family in the Quelques portraits, sonnets de femmes which she published in Paris in 1900. His father was so upset by the publication of this lesbian-themed work that he bought up all the copies he could lay his hands on, together with the printing plates. She made a a name for herself by a lesbian relationship with the bisexual courtesan Lyane de Pougy, described in the novel Idylle saphique.

In another trip to Paris with her family in 1901 she became involved in a passionate but ill-started affaire with the poet Renée Vivien until her death in 1909. First at her home in Neuilly and from 1909 onwards in her house at 20 Rue Jacob, she created a salon which was to last for almost sixty years. In Paris she had a relationship with artist Romaine Brooks for 55 years.

Among her conquests were the fabulously beautiful courtesan Liane de Pougy, and Oscar Wilde's brilliant niece Dolly Wilde. One of Barney's lovers, Olive Custance, later married Lord Alfred Douglas (Oscar Wilde's boy lover), and Natalie was godmother to their child.

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Natalie BarneySource: Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii.

Books:

  • Quelques portraits, sonnets de femmes (1900)
  • Cinq petits dialogues grecs (1901)
  • Actes et entr'actes (1910)
  • Je me souviens (1910)
  • Eparpillements (1910)
  • Poems et poèmes: autres alliances (1920)
  • Pensées d'une amazone (1920)
  • Aventures de l'ésprit (1929)
  • The One Who Is legion, or A.D.'s After-life (1930)
  • Nouvelles pensées d'une amazone (1939)
  • Souvenirs indiscrets (1960)
  • Traits et portraits (1963)
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