Duse was born in Vigevano, Lombardy, and began acting as a child. Both her father and her grandfather were actors, and she joined the troupe at age four. Due to poverty, she initially worked continually, traveling from city to city with whichever troupe her family was currently engaged. She came to fame in Italian versions of roles made famous by Sarah Bernhardt. She gained her first major success in Europe, then toured South America, Russia and the United States; beginning the tours as a virtual unknown but leaving in her wake a general recognition of her genius. While she made her career and fame performing in the theatrical "warhorses" of her day, she is today remembered more for her association with the plays of Gabriele d'Annunzio and Henrik Ibsen.
In 1879, while in Naples, she met journalist Martino Cafiero, and became involved in a fast paced love affair with him. However, less than a year later, while she was in mid-pregnancy, he left her. The baby did not survive birth, and shortly thereafter Cafiero died as well. Duse then joined Cesare Rossi's theater company, and met actor Teobaldo Checchi. The two married in 1881. By 1885, the couple had one daughter, Enrichetta, but divorced after Duse became involved with another actor, Flavio Ando.
Sibilla Aleramo was an Italian author best known for her autobiographical depictions of life as a woman in late 19th century Italy. In 1908 she met Cordula "Lina" Poletti at a women's congress, and their one-year lesbian relationship was recounted in the novel Il passaggio. In 1909 Eleonora Duse retired from acting, and near to that same time she met and became involved in a lesbian affair with Lina Poletti. The two lived together in Florence, Italy for two years before ending the relationship.
By this time, her career was in full swing and her popularity began to climb. She travelled on tour to South America, and upon her return a year later she formed her own company, meaning that she would assume the additional responsibilities of both manager and director.
Between 1887 and 1894 she had an affair with the Italian poet Arrigo Boito, perhaps best remembered as Verdi's librettist. Their relationship was carried out in a highly clandestine manner, presumably because of Boito's many aristocratic friends and acquaintances. (Despite this, their voluminous correspondence over the years survives.) In later years the two remained on good terms until his death in 1918.
In 1895 she met Gabriele d'Annunzio, who was five years her junior, and the two became involved romantically as well as collaborating professionally. Gabriele d'Annunzio wrote four plays for her. In contrast to her relations with Boito, her association with d'Annunzio was widely recognized. When d'Annunzio gave the lead for the premiere of the play La Città morta to Sarah Bernhardt instead of Duse, there was a furious fight, and Duse ended her affair with him.
In contrast to Bernhardt's outgoing personality, which thrived on publicity, Duse was introverted and private, rarely giving interviews and preferring instead to let her artistic performances speak for her. Bernhardt and Duse were unspoken rivals for many years. George Bernard Shaw saw both actresses in London within the span of a few days, in the same play. Shaw gave his nod to Duse and defended his choice in an adamant oratory quoted by biographer Frances Winwar. In regard to her general character, it is important to note that reading was a lifelong passion.
Anton Chekhov also considered Duse a "remarkable actress". While Moscow's critics and audience went delirious with admiration, Anton Chekhov explained Bernhardt's success by hard work, but not talent.
In 1896, Duse completed a triumphant tour of the United States; in Washington President Grover Cleveland and his wife attended every performance. Mrs. Cleveland shocked Washington society by giving in Duse's honor the first-ever White House tea held for an actress. In 1909 Duse retired from acting, and near to that same time she met and became involved in an affair with Italian feminist Lina Poletti, a former lover of writer Sibilla Aleramo. The two lived together in Florence, Italy for two years before ending the relationship.
Duse's relationship with the dancer Isadora Duncan was also rumored to be sexual. Duse spent several weeks with her at Viareggio, the seaside resort, in 1913, shortly after the dancer's two children drowned in a tragic accident.
She was also known for mentoring many young actresses in her company, most notably Emma Gramatica; and she shared a lasting and intimate friendship with the singer Yvette Guilbert. She also savored a long friendship with the couturier Jean Philippe Worth, who was utterly devoted to her.
Her biographer, Frances Winwar, records that Duse wore little make-up but, "...made herself up morally. In other words, she allowed the inner compulsions, grief and joys of her characters to use her body as their medium for expression, often to the detriment of her health."
Setting a new precedent from actors who previously used set expressions to convey emotions, Duse was the innovator of a technique she described as "elimination of self" to internally connect with the character she was portraying and allow expression to occur.
Over the course of her career, Duse became well-known and respected for her assistance to young actors and actresses during the early stages of their careers. Among diverse artistic geniuses who acknowledged being inspired by Duse are modern dance pioneer Martha Graham and Imagist poetry pioneer Amy Lowell.
Duse suffered from ill health (largely pulmonary) throughout most of her adult life, and the many years of touring had taken their toll.
She retired from acting in 1909, but returned to the stage in 1921 in a series of engagements in both Europe and America. During this interval, in 1916, she made one film Cenere ("Ashes"), prints of which still survive. There was also a certain amount of professional correspondence between Duse and D. W. Griffith, though ultimately nothing came of this.
On 30 July 1923 Duse became the first woman (and Italian) to be featured on the cover of the nascent Time magazine.
Duse died of pneumonia at the age of 65 in Pittsburgh in Suite 524 of the Hotel Schenley, while on the eastward return leg of a tour of the United States. (The Hotel Schenley is now the William Pitt Union at the University of Pittsburgh) A bronze plaque in the lobby commemorates her death. After being moved to New York City, where she lay in state for four days before her funeral service, her body was returned to Italy (where another service was performed). She is buried in Asolo – where she had made her home for the last four years of her life – at the cemetery of Sant' Anna.
Sergey Yesenin (or Esenin) was the leader of the Imagist movement in Russian poetry. The Imagists were the beat hippie counterculture punks of their time, living depraved, unconventional lives and creating radical literature. Although married five times in his short life—most famously to dancer Isadora DUNCAN—Yesenin also loved men, most notably poet Nikolai Klyuev. Yesenin and Klyuev lived together for two years and wrote poems about their love.
Yesenin committed suicide at age thirty after publishing the confessional Cherny Chelovek. Other works include Radunista, Inoniya, Ispoved Khuligana, and Moskva Kabatskaya.
Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin (3 October, 1895 – 28 December 1925) was a Russian lyrical poet. He was one of the most popular and well-known Russian poets of the 20th century.
In 1916, Yesenin published his first book of poems, Ritual for the Dead. Through his collections of poignant poetry about love and the simple life, he became one of the most popular poets of the day. His first marriage was in 1913 to Anna Izryadnova, a co-worker from the publishing house, with whom he had a son, Yuri. (During the Stalinist purges, Yuri Yesenin was arrested, dying in 1937 at a Gulag labor camp.)
Later that year, he moved to St Petersburg, where he met Klyuev. For the next two years, they were close friends, living together most of the time. From 1916 to 1917, Yesenin was drafted into military duty, but soon after the October Revolution of 1917, Russia exited World War I. Believing that the revolution would bring a better life, Yesenin briefly supported it, but soon became disillusioned. He sometimes criticised the Bolshevik rule in such poems as The Stern October Has Deceived Me.
Eleonora Duse spent several weeks with Isadora Duncan at Viareggio, the seaside resort, in 1913, shortly after the dancer's two children drowned in a tragic accident. Isadora Duncan was an American dancer. She performed to acclaim throughout Europe after being exiled from the United States for her pro-Soviet sympathies. Duncan bore her two children out of wedlock – the first, Deirdre, by theatre designer Gordon Craig, and the second, Patrick, by Paris Eugene Singer, one of the many sons of sewing machine magnate Isaac Singer.
In August 1917 Yesenin married for a second time to Zinaida Raikh (later an actress and the wife of Vsevolod Meyerhold). They had two children, a daughter Tatyana and a son Konstantin. The parents quarreled and lived separately for some time prior to their divorce in 1921. Tatyana became a notable writer, and Konstantin Yesenin would become a well-known soccer statistician.
In September 1918, Yesenin founded his own publishing house called the "Labor Company of the Artists of the Word". Together with Anatoly Marienhof, they founded Russian literary movement of imaginism.
In the fall of 1921, while visiting the studio of painter Georgi Yakulov, Yesenin met the Paris-based American dancer Isadora Duncan, a woman 18 years his senior. She knew only a dozen words in Russian, and he spoke no foreign languages. They married on May 2, 1922. Yesenin accompanied his celebrity wife on a tour of Europe and the United States. His marriage to Duncan was brief and in May 1923, he returned to Moscow.
In 1923 Yesenin became romantically involved with the actress Augusta Miklashevskaya to whom he dedicated several poems. The same year he had a son by the poet Nadezhda Volpin. Their son, Alexander Esenin-Volpin grew up to become a poet and a prominent activist in the Soviet dissident movement of the 1960s.
In 1925 Yesenin met and married his fourth wife, Sophia Andreyevna Tolstaya, a granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy.
The last two years of Yesenin's life he created some of his most famous poems. But he also suffered from alcoholism, experienced a mental breakdown and was hospitalised for a month. Two days after his release, he cut his wrist, wrote a farewell poem in his own blood and hanged himself from the heating pipes on the ceiling of his room in the Hotel Angleterre. He was 30 years old. The farewell poem:
Goodbye, my friend, goodbyeSergei Yesenin is interred in Moscow's Vagankovskoye Cemetery. His grave is marked by a white marble sculpture.
My love, you are in my heart.
It was preordained we should part
And be reunited by and by.
Goodbye: no handshake to endure.
Let’s have no sadness — furrowed brow.
There’s nothing new in dying now
Though living is no newer.
The Ryazan State University is named in his honour.
Stern, Keith. Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals. Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
Sibilla Aleramo (14 August 1876 – 13 January 1960) was an Italian author and feminist best known for her autobiographical depictions of life as a woman in late 19th century Italy. In 1908, while involved with Giovanni Cena, she met Cordula "Lina" Poletti at a women's congress, and their one-year lesbian relationship was recounted in the novel Il passaggio (1919), a book in which Aleramo also famously returned on the story told in Una donna. In it, she argued that Giovanni Cena had originally convinced her to slightly change her story, and she offered a different version of a few events, notably the ending. (P: Sibilla Aleramo)
In 1896, Eleonora Duse completed a triumphant tour of the United States; in Washington President Grover Cleveland and his wife attended every performance. Mrs. Cleveland shocked Washington society by giving in Duse's honor the first-ever White House tea held for an actress. In 1909 Duse retired from acting, and near to that same time she met and became involved in a lesbian affair with Lina Poletti. The two lived together in Florence, Italy for two years before ending the relationship. (P: Lina Poletti)
Born Rina Faccio in Alessandria, Piedmont. At 11, she moved with her family from Milan to the Marche region of Italy, where her father had been appointed manager of a glass factory. Unable to continue schooling beyond the elementary degree in Civitanova Marche, she continued studying on her own, and asked for reading advice from her former teacher. While employed at her father's factory, she befriended a local man, 10 years her senior, who raped her in the office when she was 15. Rina did not tell her parents about the event, and was instead persuaded to marry him. A year and a half later, at 17, she had her first and only child, Walter.
Her first book described her decision to leave her husband and son and move to Rome, which she did in 1901. After a brief relationship with a young artist, Felice Damiani, she cohabited for some years with Giovanni Cena, writer and journalist, who convinced her to turn her story into a fictionalized memoir (and to take on the pseudonym of Sibilla Aleramo). In 1906 her book, Una donna, was published. She also became active in political and artistic circles, and engaged in volunteer work in the Agro Romano, the poverty-stricken countryside surrounding Rome.
Sibilla Aleramo would go on to be one of Italy's leading feminists. Her personal writings to Poletti have, in more recent years, been studied due to their open minded views toward homosexual relationships, as has her production in general. Aleramo's first book in particular, Una donna, is by now considered a classic of Italian literature, and the first outspokenly feminist novel written by an Italian author.
Throughout the 20th century, Aleramo was mostly remembered for her tumultuous love affairs, with partners that included Umberto Boccioni and Dino Campana (The 2002 film Un Viaggio Chiamato Amore, by Michele Placido, depicts Aleramo's affair with the latter). But Aleramo's life is mostly significant for her trail-blazing trajectory as an independent woman and artist, and as an individual that traversed very different epochs (Liberal Italy, Fascism, post-WWII Italian Republic) while always maintaining cultural and political visibility. In later life Aleramo toured the continent and was active in Communist politics after World War II.
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)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
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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