COLETTE, the revered French writer, died on this date (b. 1873) the pen name of the French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette; Most famous for having written Gigi (1945), she published around fifty novels in total. In 1906 after leaving an unfaithful husband, she lived for a time at the home of the American writer, saloniste, and Lesbian extraordinaire Natalie Barney. The two had an affair, and remained friends until Colette’s death.
Colette took up work in the music halls of Paris, under the wing of Mathilde de Morny, the Marquise de Belbeuf, known as Missy, with whom she became romantically involved. In 1907, the two performed together in a pantomime entitled Rêve d’Égypte at the Moulin Rouge. Their onstage kiss nearly caused a riot, which the police were called in to suppress. As a result of this scandal, further performances of Rêve d’Égypte were banned and Colette and de Morny were no longer able to openly live together, though their relationship continued a total of five years.
A controversial figure throughout her life, Colette flaunted her Lesbian affairs, and collaborated with the Vichy regime during WWII – while at the same time aiding Jewish friends. She was a member of the Belgian Royal Academy (1935), president of the Academie Goncourt (1949) (and the first woman to be admitted into it, in 1945), and a Chevalier (1920) and a Grand Officier (1953) of the Legion d’honneur. 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 divorce. I mean, really…the Roman Catholic Church has standards! Colette is interred in Le Pere Lachaise in Paris.