History Today: In Defiance of Her Golden Age

Lucie Delarue-Mardrus was at the heart of daring interwar Paris, where she used her influence to defend those left behind by ‘progress’

For decades the reputation of author, sculptor, linguist and poet Lucie Delarue-Mardrus (1874-1945) has been defined more by the famous people she loved than by her own groundbreaking work. Delarue-Mardrus was a figure of renown in France at the beginning of the 20th century, but as the wife of the translator Joseph-Charles Mardrus and the lover of Natalie Clifford Barney, the American writer who for over 60 years hosted a literary salon in her adopted Paris, her own literary achievements and historical significance have been overshadowed. A prolific writer – she produced 70 novels in as many years of life – her work reached enormous audiences through serialisation in newspapers and she was a regular feature in the nascent celebrity magazines of the day. She combined popular appeal with critical acclaim and her work was compared with that of Émile Zola and the Nobel-nominated novelist Colette. Today she is almost forgotten, seen as a minor figure among her friends, a who’s who of early 20th-century artistic luminaries. Almost all of her work is now out of print…

History Today, February 2018, Vol 68 Issue 2, pp. 36-45.

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