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Natalie Clifford Barney

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Natalie Clifford Barney


American born but Paris naughty girl at heart, Natalie Clifford Barney was an extraordinary woman and sexual thinker.

A poet who reported knowing she was a lesbian at the age of 12, she lived on her on terms in Paris declaring, "My queerness is not a vice, is not deliberate and harms no one."

She started publishing poems about lesbianism as early as 1900 and in a strong act of courage considering the times, she published under her own name.

She said the scandal of living as an out lesbian helped her get rid of nuisances, meaning unwanted sexual advances from men.

Barney lived a nonconventional sexual life.

She strongly opposed monogamy and had several long term and short term relationships, many occurring at the same time over her life.

Barney encouraged some of her her lovers to explore other relationships and practice non-monogamy and argued against jealousy.

She was known as much for her relationships and opposition to monogamy as she was for her writing.

She famously had three categories for her relationships: liaisons, demi-liaisons and adventures.

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Often carrying on more than one serious relationship or liaison at a time with little adventures mixed in for fun.

Her writing was largely based on her life and experiences and she was the first woman poet to write openly about the love of women since Sappho.

Barney is famous for her Salon in Paris where many of the greatest literary figures of the time met once a week to discuss literature, music and art.

She focused mainly on women writers but also hosted some of the most prominent male writers of the time.

Mata Hari once performed a dance in the garden riding in on a horse dressed as Lady Godiva.

Barney's Salon was a who's who of avant-garde culture and celebrity.

In later years Truman Capote was a frequent guest.

Natalie Clifford Barney was a great sexual thinker.

She lived her life openly on her own terms with no apology and sought to encourage others to do the same.



Learn more about Natalie Clifford Barney with these books:

• Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris


• Portrait of a Seductress: The world of Natalie Barney


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