THE RELEVANT QUEER: Writer & Journalist Janet Flanner, Born March 13, 1892

Janet Flanner, 1948. Ph: Irving Penn, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Irving Penn

“Genius is immediate, but talent takes time.”

TRQ: Janet Flanner, Born March 13, 1892

Writer and journalist Janet Flanner, known widely by her pseudonym Genêt, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana but lived in Paris as a correspondent for The New Yorker magazine for most of her life. 

Originally when she arrived in Paris in 1922, Flanner saw herself as a fiction writer. However, during WWI, she took to writing about the Germans, whom she saw as “absurd, savage, and crudely insensitive to the finer things in life.” 

Flanner was soon hired by Harold Ross of The New Yorker to write on art, theatre, politics and French culture for her “Letter from Paris” column. She also wrote notable obituaries for Isadora Duncan and Edith Wharton, and contributed to the magazine’s “Profiles” series with articles on Pablo Picasso, Josephine Baker, Adolf Hitler, Jean Cocteau, and others. Sophisticated and witty, Flanner’s writing style came to define The New Yorker style. 

As part of the Lost Generation, Flanner’s social circle included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. Living at Hotel St Germain des Prés on the Rue Bonaparte, she began a relationship with actress and writer Solita Solano that through one form or another would last their entire lives. Fifty-six years after meeting her, Flanner wrote to Solano that “rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of you.” 

During WWII, Flanner temporary left Paris for Manhattan and there she met Natalia Danesi Murray, and their relationship would last nearly forty years. In 1975, Flanner would once again leave Paris, this time for good, to stay with Murray in Manhattan. 

On November 7, 1978, Flanner passed away in an ambulance on the way to the hospital from undetermined causes. Her ashes were scattered with Murray’s where they had first met at Cherry Grove in Fire Island. According to her own New Yorker obituary, “She caught history as it raced by and before others knew that it was history.” 

Janet Flanner, 1973. Ph: Inge Morath, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution



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