Known worldwide by her family name alone, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was among 20th century France’s most respected novelists. Her style, characterized by the liberal use of punchy metaphors and semi-autobiographical details, vividly sketched out the complexities of her protagonists’ love affairs and failures. In between writing stints and husbands (her first would lock her in her room as a motivational technique) she took work in Paris’s dance halls, becoming infamous for a performance at the Moulin Rouge in which she shared a kiss with another woman.
For her accomplishments as an author Colette was awarded first membership in and then the presidency of the prestigious Académie Goncourt, a French literary society, and was made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. She was given a state funeral (the first for a woman) and buried at the Père-Lachaise cemetery.