"One of these stories, 'Melanctha', was very good and good samples of her experimental writing had been published in book form and had been well praised by critics who had met her or known her."

'Melanctha' was the longest of three novellas that were printed together under the title of Three Lives in 1909. Stein's first publication, each tale is set in the same imaginary town but shifts in focus to portray a different female protagonist. 'Melanctha' found praise for its experimental modernist style -- mapping the progress of emotional development rather than the conventional action-led plot -- whilst also addressing complex issues such as race and gender.

Literary critic Werner Sollors is quoted as commenting that 'Stein's merging of modernist style and ethnic subject matter was what made her writing particularly relevant to American ethnic authors who had specific reasons to go beyond realism and who felt that Stein's dismantling of the "old" was a freeing experience… Strangely enough then, "Melanctha" - which was, as we have seen, the partial result of a transracial projection - came to be perceived as a white American author's particularly humane representation of a black character.'