Friday 19 February 2010

The LGBT History Series (19) - Colette

'Colette' was the pen-name of bisexual French novelist, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1827-1954).

Her first series was the 'Claudine' series, about a charming "literary charlatan and degenerate", which shocked, but still went down a storm in polite French circles in 1893.

Source:, Permission: copyright expired.
Her first marriage was to a famous bisexual, Henri Gauthier-Villars, or 'Willy' to his friends. After 15 years she left the unfaithful Willy, and had affairs with an American writer, Natalie Barney, and actress Josephine Baker.
In 1907 Colette was performing at the Moulin Rouge with her partner, Mathilde de Morny; their onstage kiss caused a riot, to which the police had to be called.

Colette wrote a ballet for the Paris Operahouse in 1914, and approached Maurice Ravel (him what wrote 'Bolero') to write the score for it.

Perhaps her most famous work, 'Cheri' was written in 1920, and turned into a modern film only last year, with Michele Pfeiffer playing the seductress that accidentally falls for her 19-year old male ward, and has a 6-year relationship with.

In 1924, Colette divorced her second husband, Henri de Jouvenel, after a much-publicised affair with his son, Bertrand de Jouvenel.

In 1935, Colette married again, this time to Maurice Goudeket, who wrote a book entitled 'Close to Colette: An intimate portrait of a Woman of Genius'. During the German occupation of France in WWII, Colette helped her Jewish husband and his peers hide in the attic.
Colette was the first woman to be accepted into the Academie Goncourt in 1945 and became president in 1949. When she died in Paris, in 1954, she was given a state funeral

Author: Tangopaso, Permisson: Public Domain