Djuna Barnes wrote her "Ladies Almanack" for fun, a 'slight satiric wigging', as she called it in her Foreword, to amuse her circle of expatriate friends with the tale of Evangeline Musset who took her whip in hand and 'set out upon the Road of Destiny'. It has since become a cult classic, a unique work that combines visual artistry with literary parody, bawdy humour and an unconstrained zest for the sensual pleasures of love and friendship between strong-minded women. This edition is a hardback facsimile of the original paperback book which was privately printed in Paris in 1928 in a limited edition of 1,050 copies, the first 50 of which were hand-coloured by Djuna Barnes. Daniela Caselli's Afterword illuminates the background and literary qualities of the "Almanack".
Djuna Chappell Barnes was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson in 1892, and she grew up in an eccentric, polygamous household. She was educated at home by her suffragist grandmother. She moved to New York in 1911, where she briefly studied at the Pratt Institute of Art, and where she made her living as a writer, penning feature articles, short stories, one-act dramas and poetry. Barnes was a talented artist and she illustrated her own work throughout her life. In the 1920s she moved to Paris, where she lived and worked amongst the literary expatriate community there until the late 1930s, when she moved back to New York. Barnes is most famous for her 1936 novel Nightwood but her three other major works, Ryder (1928), Ladies Almanack (1928) and The Antiphon (1958), are arguably equally as important. In her latter years Barnes became reclusive, refusing public attention and attempts to republish her work. She died in 1982 at the age of ninety.