Carl Van Vechten (1880- 1964) was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and attended the University of Chicago before moving to New York in 1906. He found work as a music critic for The New York Times and, after a trip to Europe, worked for the paper as a critic of modern dance. After publishing various collections of essays, Van Vechten achieved further success as a novelist in the Twenties; he became known, too, as a vigorous critical advocate of the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Twice married but famously gay, Van Vechten was a lifelong friend of Gertrude Stein, who made him her literary executor. He also enjoyed a distinguished career as a portrait photographer, whose many glamorous subjects included Billie Holiday, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Marlon Brando.