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Head of Zeus
No Modernism Without Lesbians
No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami

A Sunday Times Book of the Year
Winner of the Polari Prize

'A book about love, identity, acceptance and the freedom to write, paint, compose and wear corduroy breeches with gaiters. To swear, kiss, publish and be damned. It is vastly entertaining and often moving... There isn't a page without an entertaining vignette' The Times.

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.

'One of the best books I've read this year.' James Bridle

Head of Zeus * Biography
02 Apr 2020 * 432pp * £25 * 9781786694867
'Diana Souhami argues that modernism would not exist without these extraordinary women, and their courage, passion and verve certainly make this lively group biography an inspirational read'
Sunday Times
Souhami is one of our most rewarding and inventive biographers, and this book is a splendidly hectic and vivid read... If No Modernism Without Lesbians goes some way towards making us understand how they thought of themselves, and what they did, it will have done some good'
Souhami has written several fine biographies... Now, in a comprehensive cultural history, she awards lesbians the credit for modernising art, manners and morals in the early twentieth century'
No Modernism Without Lesbians is undoubtedly a contribution, correcting the history of modernism to more accurately account for the women who made possible such a lasting transformation in literature and art... Souhami has opened the door to history a little further, creating more precious space for the whole truth to enter'
Daily Beast
[A] vivid cultural history... This often gossipy, always smart romp trains a well-deserved spotlight on lesser-appreciated literary and artistic lives'
Publishers Weekly
'A book about love, identity, acceptance and the freedom to write, paint, compose and wear corduroy breeches with gaiters. To swear, kiss, publish and be damned'
The Times
Souhami challenges the Modernist canon that has dominated cultural education at their expense, foregrounding instead great men and their muses... No Modernism Without Lesbians is important for 2020 because it rips apart the prevailing patriarchal model. What Souhami calls for is abandoning the Modernist canon and rebuilding it one lesbian at a time to create a new, inclusive, 21st-century model'
Gay & Lesbian Review
'A fresh perspective on modernism'
Kirkus Reviews
'An extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library LGBTA /Studies and Women's Biography collections'
MidWest Book Review
'The lives and contributions of these four lesbians, who played a significant role in art and literature, illuminates the way lesbian work is often undervalued or discredited in comparison to those who aren't lesbian'
After Ellen
Richly researched, entertaining and hugely enjoyable... Souhami is a brilliant guide and this book a celebration, corrective and fillip all in one'
Chris Gribble, judge of the 2021 Polari Prize and CEO of the National Centre for Writing
Diana Souhami
Diana Souhami
Diana Souhami was brought up in London and studied philosophy at Hull University. She has published biographies of Gluck, Gertrude Stein, Alice Keppel, Radclyffe Hall, Romaine Brooks and Edith Cavell. Her biography of Alexander Selkirk, Selkirk's Island, won the Whitbread Biography Award.
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