American in Paris

The Last Summer of the World, Emily Mitchell, 2007

Steichen in Milwaukee Steichen

This first novel of London born Mitchell deals with the life of real world photographer Edward Steichen during two period of his long life 1906-1914 when he lived and worked in France and 1917 to 1923 with the American entry into WWI and events immediately after the war.

Steichen in France WWI Steichen
Over Iwo Jima Iwo Jima

Steichen helped develop aerial reconnaissance photography for the Americans in France late in WWI. He again volunteered in WWII and in his fifties recorded life aboard an air craft carrier in the Pacific war. Late in life he became photo director of the New York MOMA. He died in 1973 at the age of 94.

Rodin Rodin Thinker Rodin

In his earlier French period, Steichen met Leo and Gertrude Stein and became close friends with Auguste Rodin.

Alfred Stieglitz Stieglitz

Famed New York photographer Alfred Stieglitz helped advance Steichen’s early career. Married with two daughters Steichen was rumored to have had affairs with British sculptor Kathleen Bruce and American dancer Isadora Duncan. Steichen’s wife Clara sued her best friend, painter Marion Beckett, who she suspected of having an affair with her husband. Around these people and events Mitchell constructs a very entertaining and readable novel. In the modern fashion, chapters alternate between the two periods but it is less annoying than usual. Chapters are often named for surviving Steichen photos and Mitchell imagines the events surrounding the occasion of the photo.

Daughter Mary Steichen Mary Steichen

Isadora Duncan Duncan

Duncan Dancing Isadora Duncan