No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami has won the 2021 Polari Book Prize.
No Modernism Without Lesbians was described by organisers as “a bold, fresh new look at the early 20th-century cultural canon through the lens of four lesbians: Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein... a trailblazing publisher, a patron of artists, a society hostess and a groundbreaking writer, their lives and work became central to fostering the Modernist movement in interwar Paris”.
Judge and c.e.o. of the National Centre for Writing, Chris Gribble, described the book as “richly researched, entertaining and hugely enjoyable, offering “insight into the lives, passions and legacies of a group of outstanding women who together helped change the course of their culture”. He added: “Souhami [pictured, right] is a brilliant guide and this book is a celebration, corrective and fillip all in one.”
Out now in hardback and paperback, No Modernism Without Lesbians tells the extraordinary story of how a singular group of women in a pivotal time and place – Paris, Between the Wars – fostered the birth of the Modernist movement.
Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein. A trailblazing publisher; a patron of artists; a society hostess; a groundbreaking writer. They were all women who loved women. They rejected the patriarchy and made lives of their own – forming a community around them in Paris.
Each of these four central women interacted with a myriad of others, some of the most influential, most entertaining, most shocking and most brilliant figures of the age. Diana Souhami weaves their stories into those of the four central women to create a vivid moving tapestry of life among the Modernists in pre-War Paris.