Gertrude Stein was one of the Americans living in Paris to whom Sherwood Anderson addressed a letter of introduction for Hemingway. Born in 1874 in Pennsylvania, Stein moved to Paris in 1903 and soon discovered the desire to become a writer. Taking up residence at 27 Rue de Fleurus with her brother Leo Stein, Gertrude would continue to entertain the literary and artistic with invitations to '27' long after her brother moved out in 1913.
It was in that well-visited property, not 5 minutes walk from Hemingway's 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine, that Ernest and Hadley first sat on 8 March 1922. Present were both Gertrude and her long-time lesbian partner, Alice B. Toklas. The visit was the first of many.
It has been conjectured that Hemingway viewed Stein as a type of replacement mother figure. Indeed, Gertrude was similar to Grace Hemingway (whom Ernest never forgave for consistently dressing him as a girl in his youth) in physical appearance, artistic nature and ballsy temperament. 'Hemingway biographer Jeffery Meyers makes the point... "Most significantly, Hemingway tried to work out with Gertrude some of the strong Oedipal feelings he had for Grace. 'I always wanted to sleep with her and she knew it and it was a healthy feeling and made more sense than some of the talk.' Such forbidden desires could be safely expressed because he knew he could not actually sleep with a lesbian any more than he could sleep with his mother."'
Certainly, Stein had a great influence on Hemingway: she aided the development of his critical awareness, both regarding his own work and that of others, and he even made her godmother to his first son, Bumby. However, the pair fell out in 1926, and Hemingway would later write, "She lost all sense of taste when she had the menopause. Was really an extraordinary business. Suddenly she couldn't tell a good picture from a bad one, a good writer from a bad one, it all went phtt."
Stein -- a pioneer of postmodernism as well as a central figure of modernism -- is perhaps best recognised for literary works including The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Three Lives, as well as her abstract and cubist experiments with writing. She also accumulated an extensive personal collection of modernist paintings by artists such as Matisse, Braque, Gris, and Picasso. She died of stomach cancer on 27 July 1946.