BORN 11 Feb 1860, Le Cros, Dordogne (near Périgeux): Château l'Évêque - DIED 4 Apr 1953, Paris
BIRTH NAME Eymery, Marguerite
GRAVE LOCATION Bagneux, Hauts-de-Seine: Cimetière Parisien, 45 Avenue Marx Dormoy (division 08, ligne 01, numéro 6)

Rachilde was born Marguerite Eymery. One leg was shorter than the other and she limped during her entire life. She was an only child and wasn't loved by her parents. Her father a soldier, was often away from home. When she was twelve years old she started writing pieces for a local newspaper anonymously. When she was fifteen she received a commission and she started using the name Rachilde.

She wrote to Victor Hugo and he encouraged her in his reply. Around 1880 she went to Paris where she was Rachilde instead o Marguerite. Cut her hair short and wore men's clothers. She was introduced to Sarah Bernhardt who assisted in setting up her career. At her apartment she held a salon on Tuesdays that was visited by writers of the symbolist and decadent movements. She developed a passion for Catulle Mendès. It was unanswered but he would appear in her fiction in several disguises.

In 1884 she published her novel "Monsieur Vénus" and its decadence shocked her contemporaries, although Oscar Wilde loved it when he read it on his honeymoon. It was first published in Belgium and she was even tried there for pornography, convicted in absentia and sentenced to two years in prison. This ensured the Belgians that she wouldn't return to their country. After two less shocking novels, "Nono" (1885) and "La Virginité de Diane" (1866) she published "Marquise de Sade" in 1887. Gender reversal was a recurring theme in her novels. Around 1887 she had an affair with the bisexual Gisèle d'Estoc (1845-1894).

In 1885 she first met Alfred de Valette and she married him in 1889 although he didn't much like her writing. A few months after their wedding their daughter Gabrielle (1889-1984) was born. In 1890 she became a member of the editorial staff of the Mercure de France magazine. She moved her salon to its offices and received Oscar Wilde, Gaugain and Ravel. In 1891 she wrote her play "Madame Mort". Her novel "La Jongleuse" was published in 1900. She was the first to discover that Colette's novels about Claudine were not written by her husband Henri Gauthier-Villars and she supported Colette in her career.

She was actively involved in symbolist theatre and supported the former courtesan Léonide Leblanc to start a theatre career. Colette and Nathalie Barney were friends as well. In 1935 Alfred de Valette died at his desk and this marked the end of her Tuesday salons. She died in her apartment next to the offices of Mercure de France in 1953.

Related persons
• was a friend of Colette, Sidonie-Gabrielle-Claudine
• visited Daudet-Allard, Julia
• loved Mendès, Catulle
• was visited by Wilde, Oscar


The grave of Rachilde and Alfred Valette at the Cimetière Parisien, Bagneux.
Picture by Androom (03 Nov 2017)


• Benstock, Shari, Women of the Left Bank, Virago Books, 1987
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Rachilde - Wikipedia

Rachmaninov, Sergei Vassiljevitsj

Published: 01 Jun 2018
Last update: 14 Oct 2022