How Did Gertrude Stein Die? The Final Days Of Her Life

Date of Birth February 3, 1874
Date Of Death July 27, 1946
Age 72
Death Cause  Stomach Cancer

Gertrude Stein was a famous American writer known for her unique writing style and for hosting gatherings of artists and writers in Paris. These gatherings helped her shape modern art and literature. Though her life was full of colorful interactions with great artists such as Picasso and Hemingway, her final chapter was characterized by more quiet struggles. 

Stein passed away quietly in a French hospital in 1946, despite her fame and impact. While her contributions to literature and art are well known, the circumstances of her death are less well known. But, what about the story of her last hospital stay and what happened to her in the last week of her life? Here is all about that!

Who Was Gertrude Stein? Educational Background And More

Stein was born on February 3, 1874, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She was raised in a well-off Jewish family and was the youngest of five children. Before her family settled in Oakland, California, she moved to several places including Europe in her early years. 

Regarding her educational background, she was a smart and curious student. According to the sources, she first attended Radcliffe College (an all women’s college affiliated with Harvard University), where she studied psychology under the famous William James. In the later years, she went to Johns Hopkins University. Here, she aimed to become a doctor. However, she left without finishing her degree because of some personal reasons. 

What About The Love Of Her Life? 

The most significant moment of Stein’s life was in 1907 when she met with Alice B. Soon, he became the lifelong partner of Stein’s life. Their relationship, though not publicly declared in the terms we might use today, was an open secret and provided a model of companionship and mutual support that was rare for its time. 

In 1910, Leo Stein moved out, and Toklas moved in, marking the beginning of a 39-year relationship that would continue until Stein’s death in 1946. Their relationship was both a personal and professional partnership, with Toklas managing the household and assisting Stein in her writing and literary endeavors.

Special About Their Relationship 

The legacy of Stein and Toklas’s relationship extends beyond their personal bond, reflecting broader themes of gender, sexuality, and identity in the early 20th century. Their partnership challenged contemporary norms and expectations for women, both in terms of their roles in society and in their personal lives. 

Stein’s writings, particularly “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas,” which was written by Stein from Toklas’s perspective, further blurred the lines between their individual identities and their life together.

Surviving World War II

Stein faced the trials and risks of living in France during World War II with her lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas. Stein survived the Nazi occupation, which was a time of anxiety and terror, despite being Jewish. Her perseverance and the safety provided by her connections and reputation are evident in her ability to stay in France during such a turbulent period.

Career Highlights And Her Famous Writings

As previously mentioned, Stein was a significant figure in modern architecture, known for her extraordinary approach to writing and her role in shaping the artistic landscape of the 20th century.

“Three Lives” (1909)

The well-known American novelist’s first notable book was Three Lives. The work of art consists of three distinct narratives, each focusing on the life of a distinct woman. From the viewpoint of the audience, this piece demonstrated Stein’s innovative style of storytelling by focusing on the inner thoughts and viewpoints of her characters. 

“Tender Buttons” (1914)

“Tender Buttons,” a collection of poetry that experiments with the essence of words and their meanings, is arguably one of Stein’s most radical works. The sections of this work, “Objects,” “Food,” and “Rooms,” each test the limits of narrative form and consistency. Readers are prompted by Stein’s manipulation of language in “Tender Buttons” to figure out meaning from word rhythm and sound rather than from traditional syntax and semantics.

“The Autobiography Of Alice B. Toklas” (1933)

This book is interesting because even though it’s called an autobiography, Stein wrote it as if she were her partner, Alice B. Toklas, telling the story of Stein’s life. It’s a clever twist that introduces readers to the world of artists and writers in Paris during that time, including Stein’s own circle of friends. 

“The Making Of Americans” (Written 1906-1908, Published 1925)

“The Making of Americans” is an extensive and intricate tale spanning two generations that attempts to encapsulate the essence of what it means to be an American. Stein explores how language patterns might tell the story of people and their stories through the book’s repeated structure. Though difficult to read, it’s an essential part of her body of work.

The Final Days Of Gertrude Stein- The Cause Of Her Death 

In the summer of 1946, Gertrude Stein’s health took a sudden turn for the worse. Although she had an active and lively spirit her severe condition led her to hospitalization. Sources claim that the immediate cause was identified as stomach cancer. Sadly, the diagnosis came too late for effective treatment.


Stein’s condition became worsen with the time being and she was admitted to the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Despite the best efforts of her doctors, the advanced stage of her cancer made it impossible to combat the disease effectively. The medical team focused on providing comfort in her final days, ensuring she received the best care possible.


Gertrude Stein passed away on July 27, 1946. The cause of death was attributed to complications from stomach cancer. Her departure was a significant loss to the literary world and to those who knew her personally. Her innovative approach to writing, characterized by its exploration of consciousness and form, has inspired generations of writers and artists.

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