Tag: french books

5 Facts about the Wild Life of Colette

This January, in 1873, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, known as her pen name Colette, was born. Colette was known for her scandalous love life, her prolific career that includes eighty works (Gigi being her most famous work), and just generally doing whatever she wanted. Here are some facts about her amazing life to celebrate her 148th birthday.


1.  Her first husband took credit for her early works

Image courtesy of History Extra

In 1893, Colette married Henry Gauthier-Villars, pen named Willy and moved to Paris. Willy was a writer, critic, and publisher, and introduced her to a Parisian society of artists and writers. While she was sick, Willy suggested to Colette that she write stories about her childhood with even more scandalous details. Colette did, and this became her Claudine series. Willy then published the books under his own name. The couple seperated and officially divorced in 1910.


2. She Worked as a Music Hall Performer

Image courtesy of complete france

After divorcing her husband, Colette was left practically penniless. She found herself work in music halls across France, training as a dancer and a mime. She wrote about this in her novel The Vagabond, “What else could I do? Needlework, typing, streetwalking? Music hall is a profession for those who never learned one.” While performing in music halls, Colette continued to write fiction and struggled financially.


3. She was Bisexual 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Colette’s love life has always caused scandal. While her three marriages and divorces (along with her affair with her teenage stepson) were fodder for gossip, it was her romantic relationships with other women that truly caused people to raise their eyebrows. Her most famous affair was with the niece of Napoleon the III, Mathilde “Missy” de Morny. They were together from 1906 to 1910, and were open about it until 1907, when they shared an onstage kiss that almost caused people to riot. Missy was also a controversial figure, exclusively wearing male clothes in a time where it was illegal for women to wear trousers in Paris.


4. She was a journalist

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Colette may have been known for her novels and short stories, but she was also a journalist and reported on the first world war, and topics not often talked about in her day such as sexuality, eating disorders, and domestic violence.


5. She was given a state funeral 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Colette’s health was poor her entire life, but in her later years she was ill with arthritis and rarely left her house. Her husband Maurice cared for her. She died on August 3rd, 1954 at the age of 81. She was the first woman in France to have recieved the honor of a state funeral.

Featured image courtesy of complete france

The New Library of Alexandria

The Library of Alexandria was maybe the greatest repository of knowledge in the ancient world. Located in Alexandria, Egypt, right on the Mediterranean, the library was burned by Julius Caesar in 48AD, and centuries worth of written wisdom were lost.

If you’re as upset about this fact as the rest of the internet, it’s probably too soon, but I come bearing good news: though we’ll probably never know exactly the magnitude of what we lost, there is now another library on the site of the burned one.

Image via Ancient World Magazine


The Maktabat El-Iskandarīyah (or… Library of Alexandria, in English) opened in 2002, and can hold up to eight million books, though it holds only about 100,000 now. This is equivalent to what scholars believe the Great Library, held in its day. Experts estimate the library won’t be full for another eighty years. The new Library of Alexandria is also home to seven specialized libraries, four museums, two extensive permanent collections, and access to the Internet Archive, a massive digital library.

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The ancient library was important not only in itself, as one of the most prestigious libraries of its age, but in that it was a model for other libraries which proliferated throughout the area in major cities and even in smaller ones. The new library, though modern, is both a memorial to the one that burned, and proof that knowledge is still valued as it was then. The library houses books in Classical Arabic, English, and French.

Featured image via Travel and Leisure