January 28

This Day in History

Literary

Jan 28, 1873:

Colette is born

On this day, French author Colette (born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) is born in a small town in Burgundy, France. Raised in the country, Colette married writer and critic Henri Gauthier-Villars and moved to Paris, where she began writing. She published her earliest writings, a racy series of novels about a young girl named Claudine, under the name Willy, her husband's pen name.

During her marriage to Gauthier-Villars, Colette grew from a naive and provincial country girl to a sophisticated Parisienne. She took mime lessons in 1903 and began acting before she separated from her husband in 1906. The pair divorced in 1910, the same year Colette published her novel The Vagabond, based partly on the failed marriage.

After the divorce, Colette supported herself as a music-hall actress. She also began publishing essays and articles, notably in the newspaper Le Matin. She married the paper's editor, Henry de Jouvenel, in 1912. Her book Music-Hall Sidelights (1913) was based on her experiences as an actress. She began writing her best work in the 1920s, including Cheri (1920) and The Last of Cheri (1926), about a handsome young man who lives for pleasure and kills himself when he cannot recapture the joy of his first love affair.

Colette divorced Jouvenel in 1924 and later married the much younger Maurice Goudeket. She continued writing and won many awards and honors. Her novel Gigi (1944), the story of a girl raised to be a courtesan, was adapted for stage and screen, and included one of Colette's rare happy endings. Colette died in Paris in 1954.

Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

This Week in History, Jan 28 - Feb 3

Jan 28, 1873
Colette is born
Jan 29, 1845
"The Raven" is published
Jan 30, 1945
Michael Dorris is born
Jan 31, 1923
Norman Mailer is born
Feb 01, 1814
"The Corsair" by Lord Byron is published
Feb 02, 1882
James Joyce is born
Feb 03, 1820
Keats falls deathly ill

What Happened on Your Birthday?

Pick a Date