Ladies Almanack

Ladies Almanack

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Author: Djuna Barnes 

Publisher: New York University Press (1992)

Blending fiction, myth, and parody, and accompanied by the author's delightful illustrations, Ladies Almanack is also a brilliant modernist composition and arguably the most audacious lesbian text of its time—a lively lampoon of Barnes's lesbian chums of Left Bank Paris in the 1920s. The main character, Dame Evangeline Musset, is based on the notorious dyke Natalie Barney. Structured as a month-by-month almanac in a style that owes as much to Shakespeare's comedies as to any literature of the intervening centuries, Barnes's book follows the Dame's amorous, often naughty, adventures.

While the book pokes fun at the wealthy expatriates who were author Djuna Barnes' literary contemporaries and remains controversial today, it seems to have delighted its cast of characters, which were also the book's first audience. Barnes herself subsidized its private publication in 1928. Fifty of the 1050 copies of the first edition were hand colored by the author, who was identified only as a "lady of fashion," on the title page.