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’.

Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, c.1905.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.

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