I am so pleased to be selected by both pop culture sites AfterEllen and Velvetpak media for my book Romaine Brooks: A Life
2015: The Year in Lesbian/Bi Books
By Marcie Bianco on December 29, 2015
Cassandra Langer dives into the salacious life of one of our favorite queer women of modernism, in Romaine Brooks: A Life (University of Wisconsin Press).
In June, the University of Wisconsin Press will publish another book about Romaine Brooks. She plays a supporting role in the erotic novel Women Lovers or The Third Woman. This is a translation from the French by Chelsea Ray of a highly charged erotic novel written by Natalie Barney (and never published) that alludes to two entwined triangles involving Natalie, Romaine Brooks and Lily de Gramont as a stable and consistent household and Natalie, Baroness Mimi Franchetti and French courtesan Liane de Pougy that I reference in my biography of Brooks. This was only one of the challenges Romaine faced over her fifty plus year relationship with Natalie.
I’d also like to make my readers aware of my thesis that Romaine Brooks could be very much a social butterfly when it suited her. I recently was made aware of a party thrown in 1936 by Glenway Westcott and George Platt Lynes for Leonore Fini and Romaine Goddard Brooks on November 21st, 1936. This was a very chic evening party. After, Muriel King and Romaine came to dinner, and the guests included the culturati of New York and Europe; Joella and Julien Levy, Erika and Klaus Mann, Mina Curtiss and Lincoln Kirstein.
This is from Monroe Wheeler’s journal, which he ends by saying it was “our most successful party of the year, thanks to the beautifully dressed ladies.” Another testimony to Romaine’s taste and style as well as her social flare and popularity. He certainly refutes previous biographers who seem stuck on their distorted representations of her as a gloomy, anti-social reclusive.
I never thought Natalie Barney would have fallen in love with the person described by most of these other writers. Moreover, in my research I found that, Romaine had a great sense of humor and loved to dance the night away in Capri, Paris, New York and London as a young woman.
She was born in 1874-so you do the math. She remained vital and full of life in her sixties as several of her friends noted and she was hot to trot at the clubs in Harlem during her visit to New York in the 1930s when she painted portraits of Carl Van Vechten and Muriel Draper. Her style was impeccable as this terrible reproduction of a sculpture of her by Orloff proves.