Gabrielle Sidonie Colette

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Colette, Gabrielle Sidonie


Born Jan. 28, 1873, in St. Sauveur-en-Puisaye, department of Yonne; died Aug. 3, 1954, in Paris. French writer. Member of the Académie Goncourt (1944).

In 1900, Colette published the autobiographical novel Claudine at School, which was written, as were her subsequent novels about Claudine, under her first husband’s pen name, “Willy.” She began using her own name with Dialogues of Animals (1904); she published numerous novels (more than 50), plays, and articles. Colette’s novels depict the rentier society and the people on its fringes—the artistic bohemians (The Vagabond, 1910; and The Wrong Side of the Music Hall, 1913) and the ladies of the demimonde (Chéri, 1920; Chéri’s End, 1926; Russian translation, 1927). While Colette’s detailed descriptions of the professional classes are reminiscent of the works of the Goncourt brothers, her art is devoid of satire and penetrating criticism. Her best works include the reminiscences Claudine’s House (1922) and Sido ( 1930). Her literary diary The Evening Star ( 1946) deals with the occupation of France by the fascist German aggressors and the Resistance Movement. Colette was awarded the order of the Legion of Honor (1953).


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–15. Paris [1948–50].
Contes des mille et un matins. [Paris, 1970].


Lunacharskii, A. V. “Koletta Villi.” In his book O teatre i dramaturgii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1958.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Cocteau, J. Colette. Paris, 1955.
Davies, M. Colette. Edinburgh-London, 1961. (Bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Heilbrun writes about Colette that she "more and more appears before us, in her life and her writings, as the paradigm of female autonomy, allowing us to glimpse a way toward treasured soliude and the vitality of an open life." It is the notion of a "way" that I would like to explore in this review of two very fine and very different biographies (or fictions) of the French writer and woman Gabrielle Sidonie Colette.