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Short biography
Natalie Clifford Barney was born in Dayton, Ohio, to a wealthy railway manufacturing family. She attended schools in New York and France, and studied art at the boarding school Les Ruches founded by feminist Marie Souvestre at Fontainbleau, near Paris. She learned to speak French fluently and spent most of her adult life from the age of 22 living in France. She became a famous writer, patron of the arts, and an outspoken lesbian. Natalie published her first volume of poetry, Quelques Portraits -- Sonnets des Femmes, illustrated by her mother, in 1900. Her other works included novels and plays. The elderly writer Remy de Gourmont helped make Natalie famous by addressing her in his work, Lettres a l’Amazone (1912–1913). Her international literary fame also was based on the salon she created at her home in the rue Jacob on the Left Bank in Paris in 1909, which was most prominent during the 1920s. Her frequent guests and friends comprised a veritable Who's Who of artists and writers of the period, including Andre Gide, Anatole France, Jean Cocteau, Thornton Wilder, Sinclair Lewis, Rainer Maria Rilke, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Isadora Duncan. Natalie and her circle insprired Djuna Barnes's comic novel Ladies Almanack (1928) and The Well of Loneliness (1928) by Radclyffe Hall. Natalie Clifford Barney wrote three volumes of memoirs, Aventures de l’esprit (1929), Souvenirs indiscrets (1960), and Traits en portraits (1963). Her influence on early 20th-century literature began to be noted in the 1980s, when her work was rediscovered and translated into English.
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