|Pages/Publication Date:||358 / 2015|
Painted by Édouard Manet and Camille Corot, and inspiring Émile Zola's novel Nana, Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne kept Paris's gossip columnists busy reporting her affairs with Napoleon III and the future King Edward VII. But her glamorous existence belied the fact that she was no comtesse. As Catherine Hewitt relates in this fast-paced biography, Valtesse was born into poverty and raised on a squalid backstreet among the dregs of Parisian society—yet transformed herself into an enchantress and amassed a small fortune, three mansions, and fabulous carriages. From prostitute to model, from novelist to art collector, Valtesse was a social climber who became an early example of the self-made celebrity that we would instantly recognize today.