Copywriting Gertrude Stein: advertising, anonymity, autobiography

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This article traces the parallel, though in some ways inverted, early careers of Gertrude Stein and Helen Woodward: one a celebrated but little-read modernist author and the other a widely-read but largely anonymous copywriter. The first section draws comparisons between early twentieth-century changes in advertising copy and Stein’s literary innovations, focusing on the techniques used by Stein and copywriters like Woodward to direct attention to ordinary objects or promote branded products by appealing to the individual reader’s experience and subjectivity. The second section goes on to consider the contrasting definitions and public expectations of the author within the contexts of high modernism and modern advertising, respectively. The article concludes with brief analysis of the techniques of attribution, promotion and anonymity within the autobiographies of these two writers, suggesting that the contrast in approaches to life writing were largely due to how creative and corporate authors held highly contrasting public positions in early twentieth-century America.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)331-350
Number of pages20
JournalModernist Cultures
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2016


  • Popular culture
  • celebrity
  • Modernism
  • life writing
  • Helen Woodward
  • Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas


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