One of France’s greatest writers, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was a pioneer of female emancipation, bisexuality and literary invention whose daring and experimental fiction explores themes of love and sensual and sexual freedom.
Books by Colette
Married for the first time as a young woman to the notorious writer, critic and hedonist Henri Gauthier-Villars (known as Willy), Colette was absorbed into the decadent artistic scene of Paris’s Belle Époque. First encouraged - later coerced - to write by her husband, her first novels - the Claudine quartet - were originally published under his name and were an instant and sensational success. Although Colette fought for authorial control, Willy continued to collect royalties for her work even after the couple separated, forcing her to earn a living as a music-hall performer. During this time she embarked on a number of public lesbian affairs, scandalising much of Paris society. Her experiences influenced much of her work, in particular the novels La Vagabonde and L’Envers du music-hall.
Throughout the early twentieth century Colette continued to advance her writing career, producing some of her best-known and most acclaimed work, including Chéri, Le Blé en herbe and Gigi which was later successfully adapted for both stage and screen. Inducted as a member of both the Belgian Royal Academy and the French Académie Goncourt and elected a Chevalier and Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur, she was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature in 1944 and was the first French woman writer to receive a state funeral.