Wild hearts in wartime

Barney and Romaine Brooks in Florence (from Wild Heart, by Suzanne Rodriguez)

Barney and Romaine Brooks in Florence (from Wild Heart, by Suzanne Rodriguez)

The writer/saloniste Natalie Clifford Barney and her early 20th century Left Bank circle are attracting more attention than ever. A long-time dalliance of Barney’s, Dolly Wilde, is a presiding spirit over Caitlin Moran’s recent How to Build a Girl, and will appear in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s collection of Almost Famous Women early in the new year. Just like last year, screenwriter Suzanne Stroh will be celebrating Barney’s birthday which rounds out LGBT History Month in the US, for which Barney is an honoree this year. Join Suzanne this Friday when she will be interviewing Artemis Leontis, biographer of one of the most intriguing of Barney’s associates. American-born Eva Palmer was not just one of Natalie’s early paramours, she was also married to Angelos Sikelianos, brother of Penelope Sikelianos and thus making her sister-in-law to Raymond Duncan. She shared the Duncans’ obsession with reviving the ways of the ancients in everyday life.

Suzanne also has some particularly exciting news about a film she is writing, a thriller set in Florence during World War Two and featuring Barney, Brooks, and other familiar faces. It is based on Francesco Rapazzini’s biography of Élisabeth de Gramont, as well the forthcoming book All or Nothing: Romaine Brooks (1874-1970). That book’s author, Cassandra Langer, will be giving a talk at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art on November 20, when a transcription and translation of the only known recording of Brooks (1968) will also be presented to the archives by Suzanne Stroh and Jean-Loup Combemale.


  1. Steven

    Exciting news. Looking forward to the interview with Artemis. Nice to see also Natalie’s little corner on LGBT History Month.

  2. Suzanne Stroh

    Just ordered Caitlin’s book on Kindle and can’t wait to read. Thank you, James. Last year you reminded your readers that THERE WILL BE CHAMPAGNE at Natalie’s birthday party at my place. I just learned that one bottle remains from last year, which reminded me that I hadn’t done any shopping for my party, nor asked virtual Berthe to rustle up some chocolate cake, so there’s work to do… must dash… and yes, THERE WILL BE CHAMPAGNE for visitors

  3. Pingback: My one, my eternal mate | Strange Flowers

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