'I always wanted to be historical,' Gertrude Stein once quipped. In 1932, Stein began writing the 'autobiography' of her longtime friend and companion, Alice B. Toklas. The book, an immediate bestseller, guaranteed them both a place in history. An account of their life together in Paris before, during, and after World War I, it is full of the atmosphere of the changing life of the city and of idiosyncratic glimpses of such figures as Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Cocteau, Apollinaire, Pound, Eliot, Hemingway, and other luminaries and aspirants who were their close friends. But at the center of the narrative there is always the titanic figure of Gertrude Stein, the self-proclaimed 'first-class genius' who some dismissed as the 'Mother Goose of Montparnasse,' presiding over her celebrated residence-salon-art gallery at 27, rue de Fleurus. William Troy remarked about her: 'It is not flippant to say that if she had not come to exist . . . it would be necessary to invent Miss Gertrude Stein.'