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Djuna Barnes
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Author
    (June 12, 1892-June 18, 1982)
    Born in Storm King Mountain, New York
    Journalist, novelist, poet, playwright and illustrator
    Wrote 'The Book of Repulsive Women' (1915), 'A Book' (1923), 'Ladies Almanack' (1928), 'Ryder' (1929), 'Nightwood' (1936) and 'The Antiphon' (1958)
    She wrote a satirical piece for 'Vanity Fair' advising young women how to produce the best aesthetic effect while committing suicide.
    During an interview with James Joyce, she missed part of what he said because her attention wandered.
    She drank heavily, suffered bouts of depression, and had two nervous breakdowns.
    Her response to a questionnaire sent to artists by 'The Little Review' was, 'I am sorry but the list of questions does not interest me to answer. Nor have I that respect for the public.'
    She was so angry that Anais Nin named a character Djuna that she would cross the street to avoid Nin.
    Living in Greenwich Village in the 60s, she became increasingly reclusive.
    E.E. Cummings, who lived across the street, would occasionally check on her by opening a window and shouting, 'Are you still alive, Djuna?'
    She called herself 'the unknown legend of American literature.'
    At 16, she was raped by a neighbor, with the knowledge and consent of her father.
    She got a job as a reporter for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle by walking into their offices and declaring, 'I can draw and write, and you’d be a fool not to hire me.'
    In an early example of participatory journalism, she subjected herself to force feeding, as was being used on hunger-striking suffragettes.
    She wrote, 'New York is the meeting place of the peoples, the only city where you can hardly find a typical American.'
    Some of her illustrations for her novel 'Ryder' were considered so bawdy that the Post Office banned it from the mail.
    She said she had 'no feeling of guilt whatever about sex, about going to bed with any man or woman.'
    Her novel 'Nightwood' was described by Dylan Thomas as 'one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman' and by William Burroughs as 'one of the great books of the twentieth century.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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