In the underworld of Paris’s Belle Epoque, where the wealthiest of men flocked to mingle with the beautiful and cultured demimondaine, Liane de Pougy found the calling she didn’t know she was looking for. After leaving her abusive husband and young son, eighteen-year-old Anne-Marie Chassagne found herself in this centre of pleasure and decided to take up with the reigning queen of courtesans, Valtesse de la Bigne. Under her mistresses’ tutelage, Chassagne, who renamed herself Liane de Pougy, would go on to grace the stage at the Folies-Bergere, be courted by the likes of Leopold II, and publish subversive sapphic auto-fiction. But it wasn’t all partying. After losing her prince husband, Pougy took the veil and devoted her life to supporting those with disabilities.
So in this time of great uncertainty, escape with us into the the fabulous and decadent world of the Belle Epoque!
Griffin, Susan. The book of the courtesans: a catalogue of their virtues. Broadway, 2002.
Hewitt, Catherine. The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-century Courtesan who Built an Empire on a Secret. St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
Prioleau, Elizabeth. Seductress: Women who ravished the world and their lost art of love. Penguin, 2004.