Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born on January 28, 1873. She is a French author best known for the novel Gigi which was turned into a stage and film musical. At the age of 20 she wed Henry Gauthier-Villars who was a writer, critic and a literary degenerate. She wrote the Claudine series that were published under her husband's name Willy. The books were shocking and paid out a great deal of money.
In 1905 worked in the music halls of Paris. She performed with Mathilde de Morny and their real on-stage kiss caused a riot. Further performances of Reve d'Egypt were banned and Colette and de Morny could not live together. Henri de Jouvenel was her second husband and they had one daughter Colette de Jouvenel. During WWI Colette was asked to compose a ballet for the Paris Opera. She titled it Divertissements pour ma fille. Collette turned her estate into a hospital for the wounded and om 1920 Colette was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. She then divorced Henri in 1924 and had an affair with his son.
Her third marriage was to Maurice Goudeket. He wrote a book Close to Colette: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman of Genius in 1935. Colette wrote Cheri in 1926 and it was highly controversial. After writing Cheri, Colette revolved around Jean Cocteau and their relationship is depicted in their books. 1927 saw Colette as France's greatest woman writer. She remained in Paris during WWII writing and publishing. She wrote Gigi set in the Belle Epoque world and it became a bestseller. Gigi swept readers away from their everyday concerns of wartime.
Her final years were spend in a wheelchair being cared for by her husband. Colette died in 1954 and she left 60 published novels. Many of these were autobiographical and her stories can be divided into idyllic natural tales and dark struggles in relationships. She wrote with clear observations and dialogue. Colette is credited with discovering Audrey Hepburn who she hired to play the Broadway lead in Gigi.
Colette never hid her lesbian affairs, but everyone still loved her. She was a member of the Belgian Royal Academy in 1935 and President of the Academie Concourt in 1949. She helped her Jewish friends and concealed them in her attic during the war. Colette died on August 3, 1954 in Paris. She was 81.