Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas with their dog Basket in front of her home in France

In late summer 1907, Alice B. Toklas left behind her father and brother in an earthquake-and-fire-ravaged San Francisco in search of new adventures in Paris.

If unsure of what her future in the City of Lights held, the once-promising concert pianist discovered the answer shortly after arriving at her destination and encountering avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein.

“She was a golden brown presence, burned by the Tuscan sun and with a golden glint in her warm brown hair,” Toklas recalled decades later in her autobiography What Is Remembered. “She wore a large round coral brooch and when she talked, very little, or laughed, a good deal, I thought her voice came from this brooch. It was unlike anyone else’s voice – deep, full, velvety like a great contralto’s, like two voices.”

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