(Sidonie Gabrielle Colette) sēdōnē´ gäbrēĕl´ kōlĕt´ [key]
, 1873–1954, French novelist. Colette achieved popularity with numerous novels, characterized by sensitive observations—particularly of women—and an intimate, semiautobiographical style. Her early series of novels, published in collaboration with her first husband, Willy (pseud. of Henry Gauthier-Villars), include Claudine at School
(1900, tr. 1930) and The Innocent Wife
(1903, tr. 1934). Among many later novels written on her own are The Vagrant
(1910, tr. 1912), Chéri
(1920, tr. 1929), The Cat
(1933, tr. 1936), and Gigi
(1945). Divorced in 1906, Colette worked on the music-hall stage until 1914. Her marriage to Henri de Jouvenel also ended in divorce, but her last years were enriched by the companionship of her third husband, Maurice Goudeket. Colette was the first woman to head the Goncourt Academy and the second to become a grand officer of the French Legion of Honor.
See Earthly Paradise, a collection of autobiographical writings, ed. by R. Phelps (1966); M. Sarde, Colette: Free and Fettered (1980); E. M. Eisinger and M. McCarty, ed., Colette: The Woman, the Writer (1981); G. Dormann, Colette: A Passion for Life (1985); N. W. Jouve, Colette (1987); C. Francis and F. Gontier, Creating Colette (2 vol., 1999–2000); J. Thurman, Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette (1999).
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