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Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette [1873-1954], was born in the village of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, where she led an idyllic childhood. At the age of twenty, she married Henri Gauthier-Villars, known as Willy, a Parisian man of letters under whose name she published the Claudine novels. Separated from Willy in 1905, Colette supported herself as an actress before establishing her own reputation as a writer. She was celebrated in later years as one of the great figures of twentieth-century French life and letters, and was the first woman to be accorded a state funeral by the French Republic. Judith Thurman is the author of Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette and of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, which won the National Book Award for Biography in 1983. She is a widely published literary critic, cultural journalist, and translator of poetry.