Every Friday, for half a decade beginning in 1909, whenever she was in Paris, Natalie Clifford Barney hosted the one of the most brilliant international salons of its day. Barney received in her home such literary, artistic, musical and intellectual beacons of the 20th century as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Colette, Isadora Duncan, Auguste Rodin, Romaine Brooks, William Carlos Williams, Paul Valery, Renee Vivian, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Truman Capote. In 1929, she shared her life, in and out of the salon, through the publication of the first of three volumes of reminiscences. Here Barney explores her family tree, chronicles her friendships and associations through reprinted correspondence and recreated conversations, and evokes the golden age of her salon in a gallery of literary portraits. The first half of the volume features a baker's dozen of the male writers she kneow, from Oscar Wilde, whom she literally ran into at the age of five, to Pierre Louys, who encouraged her fledgling writing career and Paul Valery, an "Immortal" in the Academie Francaise.
Barney dedicated the latter half of her diary to the Academie des Femmes, which she founded in 1927, as a counterpart to the male bastion of the French Academy. The book preserves the proceedings of meetings between such figures as Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes and Mina Loy, in the distinctive voices of their speakers.