Duchesnois, Joséphine

BORN 5 Jun 1777, Saint-Saulve, Nord - DIED 8 Feb 1835, Paris
BIRTH NAME Raffin, Catherine Joséphine
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 30, ligne 01, T, 30)

Catherine Joséphine Raffin was the daughter of a horse merchant. In 1793 she went to Paris to search for one of her sisters, but she returned to Valenciennes where she worked as a servant. On 10 Jan 1797 she made her acting debut among a group of local amateurs. She went to Paris for a second time. Things didn't go well there until Madame de Montesson helped her to a job at the Théâtre-Français.

In 1802 she was brilliant in "Phèdre" and Napoleon saw her in that part. She turned into a rival for the famous Mademoiselle George and every now and then this led to spectacular outbursts. The empress Joséphine herself was on her side. In 1804 she had a brief affair with Napoleon, who once let her wait for a long time and then sent her away. The lesbian Mademoiselle Raucourt was another of her suitors.

In 1808 Marguerite George went abroad and now she was the undisputed star of the Comédie Française, where she seems to have tyrannized the other actors as well as the management.

In Januari 1810 she had a son by Casimir Baecker, a harpist in the service of Madame de Genlis. In 1812 she had another son, this time by marquis Anatole-Charles-Alexis de la Woëstine, a grandson of Madame de Genlis who was mentioned as the possible father of Napoleon III. In 1815 she had a daughter by Charles Gélinet and this time the father recognized his child.

After a lot of success in romantic dramas and classic parts she left the stage on religious grounds on 9 Jan 1833.

Related persons
• quarreled with George, Marguerite Joséphine
• was the lover of Napoleon I Bonaparte
• performed with Talma, François Joseph


The grave of Joséphine Duchesnois at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (28 Aug 2001)


• Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Parisians, Robson Books, London, 1991
• Claude Augé (ed.), Larousse Universel en 2 volumes, Librarie Larousse, 1922
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
DUCHESNOIS, Catherine, (1777-1835), comédienne - napoleon.org

Duclaux, Antoine

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 25 Apr 2022