Colette (born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) was a French author and woman of letters nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948; also known as a mime, actress, and journalist. Colette was most widely known for her 1944 novella Gigi (1944), which was the basis for the 1958 film and the 1973 stage production of the same name.
In 1893, Colette married Henry Gauthier-Villars— a well-known author— and her first four novels appeared under his name. Willy, fourteen years older than his wife and one of the most notorious libertines in Paris, introduced Colette into avant-garde intellectual and artistic circles, engaged in sexual affairs, and encouraged Colette's same-sex alliances. Colette later said that she would never have become a writer if it had not been for Willy. Nevertheless, when Colette wished to have her name associated with her work as it became widely known, Willy resisted and locked her in her room until she produced enough pages to suit him.
After leaving her husband, she could not collect money from her writing because he held the copyrights. She started a career performing in dance halls. She also started a series of relationships with women including Mathilde de Morny, the Marquise de Belbeuf ("Missy"). Their onstage kiss nearly caused a riot and the ensuing scandal meant that the two could no longer live together, although their relationship continued for another 5 years.
In 1912, Colette married Henry de Jouvenel, the editor of Le Matin. During World War I, Colette devoted herself to journalism. The marriage allowed her to devote her time to writing, and in 1920 she published Cheri.
Colette's marriage to Jouvenel ended in divorce in 1924. In 1925, she met Maurice Goudeket, who became her final husband; the couple stayed together until her death.
She has since become one of France's best-known writers.
In 2018, a biopic of Colette's life was made starring Keira Knightly.