Last week we shared the story of Djuna Barnes and you can’t have Djuna without the story of Natalie Barney, Natalie was born in October 1876 in Dayton Ohio to a very wealthy family. Raised with an appreciation of art, music, and culture from a very young age they spent weekends in museums and author readings.
One reading while in New York over the summer took a young Natalie and her mother to a bookshop to listen to Oscar Wilde. While he was speaking a group of young boys began throwing candied cherries at Natalie. When Oscar saw this he picked her up and put her on his knee and read a story to her. Later in life, she would date Oscar’s niece.
In 1887 she went to Paris for the first time with her mother who was chasing her dream of being an artist. It began her instant love affair with France and she would return four years later traveling all over Europe and finally settling in Paris.
In Spain she met the red-headed beauty Eva Sikelianas and fell in love, She had known since she was 12 that she was a lesbian and vowed to live an out and normal life. Natalie had a rather open idea when it came to relationships. She always wanted to date more than one person at a time and wasn’t ever going to be devoted to just one person.
One dramatic relationship after another some ending suddenly and some with dramatic shows of love before walking away. It became a right of passage for any lesbian in Paris to have spent some time in her bed but not to stay too long.
Natalie left her mark on Paris with her salons that she held for over 60 years. Every expat & artist that came through Paris visited her weekly salon from Colette, Rodin, Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, Gertrude Stein, and Hemingway to name a few. In 1909 she moved to a home at 20 Rue Jacob that came complete with a temple.
The small Temple of Friendship with its Doric columns sat in the garden and if those columns could talk, they would have quite a story. Watching Colette dressed and performed as Mata Hari and the late-night parties with naked party goers.
There is so much more to her life, sit back and listen to today’s newest episode all about her life.
More info and photos: https://www.claudinehemingway.com/paris-history-avec-a-hemingway-podcast-1
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