Colette was the pen name of the famous French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (January 28, 1873 – August 3, 1954).
She was born in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Yonne, in the Burgundy Region of France, the daughter of Jules-Joseph Colette and Adele Eugenie Sidonie Landoy (‘Sido’). In 1893 she married Henri Gauthier-Villars. Her first books, the Claudine series, were published under the pen name of her husband, ‘Willy’.
She divorced Gauthier-Villars in 1906 and took up work in the music halls of Paris, under the wing of the Marquise de Belboeuf. She married Henri de Jouvenel, the editor of Le Matin newspaper, in 1912. During World War I she was a freelance journalist, but she also converted her home into a hospital.
Post-war, her writing career bloomed following the publication of ChÃ©ri (1920). She published around fifty novels in total, many have autobiographical elements and her themes can be roughly divided into idyllic natural tales or dark struggles in relationships and love. All her novels were marked by clever observation and dialogue with an intimate, explicit style.
Her most popular novel, “Gigi,” was made into a Broadway play as well as a highly successful Hollywood motion picture starring Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, and Leslie Caron.
She divorced Henri de Jouvenel in 1924. She married Maurice Goudeket in 1935, making her full name Sidonie Gabrielle Claudine Colette Gauthier-Villars de Jouvanel Goudeket.
Colette was a provocative figure throughout her life, between husbands engaging in lesbian affairs.
She was a member of the Belgian Royal Academy (1935), president of the AcadÃ©mie Goncourt (1945), and a Chevalier (1920) and a Grand Officier (1953) of the Legion of Honor.
When she died in Paris on August 3, 1954, she was given a state funeral, although she was refused Roman Catholic rites because of her lifestyle.
Colette is interred in Le PÃ¨re Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.
Her works include:
Claudine Ã l’Ã©cole (1900)
Claudine Ã Paris (1901)
Claudine en mÃ©nage (1902)
Claudine s’en va (1903)
Dialogues de BÃªtes (1904)
La Vagabonde (1910)
L’Envers du music hall (1913)
La Paix Chez les BÃªtes (1916)
La Maison de Claudine (1922)
Le BlÃ© en Herbe (1923)
La Fin de ChÃ©ri (1926)
La Naissance du Jour (1928)
Le Pur et L’Impur (1932)
La Chatte (1933)
Le KÃ©pi (1943)
L’Ã‰toile Vesper (1947)
Le Fanal Bleu (1949)