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Janet Flanner & Solita Solano

Janet Flanner was a novelist, translator, and journalist, best known for her fortnightly "Letter from Paris," which she wrote for the New Yorker from 1925 to 1975. (Picture: Janet Flanner by Berenice Abbott)

Flanner had an affair with Edith WHARTON, but Solita Solano, a well-known writer and drama critic for the New York Tribune, was her greatest love. They remained close for over sixty years. Another long-term lover was Natalia Danesi Murray, an Italian-born radio broadcaster who later became vice president of Rizzoli publishers.

She was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on March 13, 1892. She matriculated at the University of Chicago in 1912, but left the University after two rocky years, worked for a time in a girls' reformatory, then in 1916 became a drama and art critic for the Indianapolis Star.

Toward the end of World War I, Flanner, married to a man she did not love, moved to New York City where she became acquainted with Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant. They introduced her to the most profound and enduring love of her life, Solita Solano, drama editor for the New York Tribune.

In New York, Flanner explored her sexuality, participated in the suffrage movement and early feminist organizations, and moved in the circle of the Algonquin Round Table. As she began to find her own place among the strong and stimulating professional women of Greenwich Village and as her relationship with Solano intensified, the illusion of her marriage became increasingly difficult to maintain.


Janet Flanner and Solita Solano in Greece
Janet Flanner was a novelist, translator, and journalist, best known for her fortnightly "Letter from Paris," which she wrote for the New Yorker from 1925 to 1975. Flanner had an affair with Edith WHARTON, but Solita Solano, a well-known writer and drama critic for the New York Tribune, was her greatest love. They remained close for over sixty years. Another long-term lover was Natalia Danesi Murray, an Italian-born radio broadcaster who later became vice president of Rizzoli publishers.


Janet Flanner and Solita Solano


©Maurice-Louis Branger (died 1950). Terrasse de Café (Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes), Paris, ca. 1922 (©27)

When Solano was sent on assignment to Greece in 1921, Flanner went with her. By the time the two women settled in Paris in 1922, Flanner was divorced. Flanner lived almost all the rest of her life in France, returning to the United States only for the duration of World War II and again near the end of her life. She died on November 7, 1978, in New York City.

In Paris, Flanner knew virtually all the major figures of the literary expatriate community on the Left Bank. She regularly wrote to Jane Grant of Parisian personalities and cultural happenings. When Ross started the New Yorker in 1925, Grant encouraged him to include Flanner's letters as a regular feature.

On October 10, 1925, Ross published the first "Letter from Paris," signing it "Genêt" without Flanner's knowledge. Her "Letters" had no journalistic model or precedent, but soon Flanner was developing and refining a new genre of analytic commentary that, as she described it in Paris Was Yesterday (1972), "instinctively leaned toward comments with a critical edge, indeed a double edge, if possible."

Her instructions from Ross were to present to an American audience life as the French perceived it. He wanted the writing to be "precisely accurate, highly personal, colorful, and ocularly descriptive," the style that came to define the New Yorker itself.

Although none of Flanner's journalism or fiction develops in any real depth overt lesbian content or themes, she was a prominent figure in the lesbian community of expatriate Paris. She was a regular guest at Natalie Clifford Barney's famous lesbian salon, and she and Solano appear in Djuna Barnes's satire of that community, Ladies Almanack (1928), as "Nip and Tuck," a pair of plucky journalists.

Although she wrote one novel, The Cubical City (1926), translated two novels for her friend Colette, and published in dozens of journals, magazines, and newspapers, Flanner's position as a journalist set her apart from the other literary Americans in Paris.

She considered herself only a "minor Left Banker" and admits that F. Scott Fitzgerald was "the only one of [her] writer friends who ever gave [her] the mutual identification of . . . having any literary sensibilities." She nonetheless won a National Book Award for Paris Journal: 1944-1965 in 1966 and received an honorary Ph.D. from Smith College in 1958.

Citation Information
Author: Law, Carolyn Leste
Entry Title: Flanner, Janet
General Editor: Claude J. Summers
Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture
Publication Date: 2002
Date Last Updated August 10, 2002
Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/flanner_j.html
Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL 60607
Today's Date November 7, 2012
Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.
Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

Solita Solano, real name Sarah Wilkinson (born 1888 in Troy, New York, died 22 November 1975 in Orgeval near Paris) was an American writer, poet and journalist.

Sarah Wilkinson came from a middle-class family and attended the Emma Willard School in Troy. After the death of her father she left home and married her childhood sweetheart Oliver Filley. They spent the next four years in the Philippines, in China and Japan, where her husband worked as an engineer. They returned to New York in 1908 where she started work as a theatre critic with the New York Tribune and as a freelance contributor to the National Geographic Society. At this time she changed her name to Solita Solano.

In 1919 Solano got to know the journalist Janet Flanner in Greenwich Village with whom she started a relationship. In 1921 they travelled to Greece, where Janet was to work on a report for the "National Geographic" on Constantinople. Solano had three books published, and as they were not very successful, returned to journalism. In the following year they travelled to France. In Paris they joined the intellectuel-lesbian circles of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Natalie Clifford Barney, Romaine Brooks and Djuna Barnes. In 1929 Solano had an affair with Margaret Anderson, founder of The Little Review, who had come to Paris with her lover, French singer Georgette Leblanc. The affair lasted several years, though Anderson remained living with Leblanc.

At this time Janet Flanner started writing, under the Pseudonym Genêt, the Letter from Paris, for The New Yorker. After the outbreak of World War II Solano and Flanner returned to New York. (Picture: Margaret Anderson)

A few years later Solano left Flanner after Flanner started an affair with Natalia Danesi Murray; meanwhile Solano fell in love with Elizabeth Jenks Clark. Margaret Anderson got to know Clark through Solano after Clark returned to the US. Clark and Solano became Anderson's closest friends, although Anderson had in the meantime fallen in love with Dorothy Caruso, widow of the singer Enrico Caruso.

During the 1930s and 40s, Solano studied with G. I. Gurdjieff, and for a while acted as his secretary. She was a member of a key Gurdjieff group known as “The Rope,” to which Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson, and Kathryn Hulme also belonged. After Gurdjieff’s death in 1949, Solano became the focal point for members of The Rope until her own death. Her notes of Gurdjieff’s meetings with The Rope are a remarkable record of his personality and method. (Picture: Elizabeth Jenks Clark, 1931, photo by Man Ray)

After the war Solano returned to France, where she died at the age of 87.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solita_Solano

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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