Misia and Colette met at the offices of La Revue Blanche, where her husband Henry Gauthier-Villars or Willy, worked as the music editor. He had previously founded Le Chat Noir in Montmartre. Willy used Colette to write four novels – Claudine stories, which appeared under his name in 1901-1903. She had no access to the earnings of the best selling Claudine books, because the copyright belonged to Willy. After divorcing Willy she followed a stage career in music halls across France, sometimes playing Claudine in sketches from her own novels. She embarked on a series of relationships with other women, notably with Mathilde de Morny – Marquise de Belbeuf (Missy), with whom she sometimes shared the stage. In 1907 Colette and the blue blood Missy appeared at the Moulin Rouge in a lesbian pantomine called Rêve d’Égypte. was witnessed by Le Tout Paris, including Misia, and ended in a full scale riot not known since Jarry’s Ubu Roi. Misia and Colette kept in touch throughout their lives. In 1932 their friendship was cought on camera in a short movie also featuring Roussy Mdivani (JoJo Sert’s second wife). Colette was a prolific writer and many of her best known novels, like Vagabond and Gigi, were based on her life’s experiences. She was in her sixties when Paris was occupied and, just like Misia, she remained in the city. When Colette’s third husband Maurice Goudeket, was arrested by the Gestapo in December 1941 Misia’s husband’s intervention led to his release. One day before the liberation of Paris, Misia held a party in rue Rivoli, where all her guests, including Collette and Sert, watched the bullets flying around in the Place de Concorde from Misia’s balcony.
For her achievements as a writer, Colette, received the award of Grand Officer (1953) of the Légion d’honneur and when she died in 1954 she was given a state funeral in 1954.
An extract from chapter 9 ‘JoJo and Chinchilla’….