Liane de Pougy – French Dancer and Courtesan

Postcard depicting Liane de Pougy in 1886 (source)

Postcard depicting Liane de Pougy in 1886 (source)

Liane de Pougy was a French dancer and courtesan who began and ended her life in a nunnery. She was born Anne Marie Chassaigne on July 2, 1869, in La Flèche, Sarthe, France. At the age of 16, she became pregnant and eloped with a naval officer, Armand Pourpe. Anne Marie had a son, Marc, but the marriage was not a happy one. Her husband was abusive and at some point, she took a lover. When Armand found them together, he shot at Anne Marie wounding her in the wrist, prompting her to leave her son and husband and go to Paris. Once in Paris, Anne Marie did some acting and dancing, but eventually gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful and sought after courtesans in Paris.

In 1910, Anne Marie tried marriage again, but it wasn’t successful, ending in separation although not divorce. Then in 1914, her life changed dramatically. In December of 1914, her son Marc, who had been raised by his grandparents and volunteered as an airman in the war, was killed. His death had a great impact on her and she turned to religion. Anne Marie became Sister Anne-Mary as a tertiary of the Order of Saint Dominic and dedicated herself to the care of children with birth defects at the Asylum of Saint Agnes. She died at the age of 81 on December 26, 1950.

Find out what else happened on December 26 in Women’s History.


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