EP 79: Paris History Avec A Hemingway (Valtesse de La Bigne)
If there was one story I was excited to share when we began this podcast it was the life of Valtesse de La Bigne. Born in 1848 she learned from a very early age she had to take care of herself. Her father was an alcoholic who wouldn’t have a role in her life and her mother was a laundress and prostitute. At ten years old she worked in a candy store and within a few years, she was working twelve-hour days as a seamstress.
Many of the young girls working near the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette were given the moniker Laurette for their work on the side to make a little extra money. Not thought of as a full-blown lady of the night, but it was the start of a lifelong career for Valtesse. Her birth name was Emile-Louis Delabigne who would later change it when she decided to take to the stage and needed a more refined name.
She chose Valtesse as it sounded a lot like Votre- Altesse, your highness in French, and with a few strategic moves she became the most sought after and famous Courtesan of Paris. Her life filled the pages of newspapers and she served as the inspiration for Emile Zola’s most famous works. She inspired artists and carved out a life few women could do at this time.
I first discovered her when I came across her exquisite bed in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, just the story of her bed alone is a reason you must listen to this week's episode of La Vie Creative - Paris History Avec A Hemingway.
More info and photos: https://www.claudinehemingway.com/paris-history-avec-a-hemingway-podcast-1
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