31 January 2014

Thomas Hal Phillips: The Bitterweed Path (1950; repr. 1996)

The Bitterweed Path (1950) by Thomas Hal Phillips (1922–2007) is an interesting book in the history of homosexual literature. It features in Anthony Slide's Lost Gay Novels: A Reference Guide to Fifty Works from the First Half of the Twentieth Century (Routledge: 2003), which includes novels published from 1917 to 1950, and not necessarily written by authors who were gay.

Phillips was born in Corinth, Mississippi, and he was gay, and the Introduction to The Bitterweed Path (dated Atlanta, Georgia, 1995) is by John Haywood (author of Men Like That: A Southern Queer History: University Of Chicago Press (2001). Howard met Phillips in his later years, and mentions that he was not the kind of person who used expressions such as 'homosexual', 'gay' or 'lesbian': Phillips was from a different era, one in which homosexuality was not only different but also illegal, and this novel is a rare example – for the time – of an imaginative homosocial work with strong homoerotic undertones.

The Bitterweed Path is Thomas Hal Phillips's first novel, and his only novel to deal with a homosexual theme. It is set in rural Mississippi and essentially concerns the relationship between sharecroppers's son Darrell Barclay, the landowner Malcolm Pitt, and his son Roger. Phillips was consciously drawing on the Biblical story of David and Jonathan, which included Jonathan's father Saul's great admiration for David the giant-slayer. Phillips believed that this story could be interpreted in many ways, and so interpreted it in his own way.

Phillips's representation of the David and Jonathan story is of course essentially homosexual, but muted, although that in no way limits its importance in the history of the genre.

André Birabeau: La Débauche (1924); trans. as Revelation (1930)

I can never stop repeating that I have a serious allergy to novels in translation, so it is very unusual for me to read one. As I can read French novels fluently in the original language, it is almost unknown for me to read a French novel in translation. However, La Débauche – apparently the only novel by the playwright André Birabeau (1890–1974) – was originally published in 1923 in Oeuvres libres, then the following year (probably in a very small print run) on its own by Flammarion, but seems unfindable at any price. So, it had to be Una Troubridge's translation into English as Revelation (1930).

I particularly wanted to read it because it is generally believed to be the first fictional representation of a mother's reaction to her son's homosexuality. I was very pleasantly surprised to find not only that the essential ideas of the book  bear up to translation, but also that the book in general reads very well.

Mathilde Casseneuil is married to a 'special reporter' who has spent almost all of the twenty years of his marriage away from his Parisian wife, who now discovers that her son Dominique – in his early twenties and working for a car company in Avignon – has been killed in a car crash. Distraught, Mathilde flies (by train, as people of course had to do in those days) to Avignon.

The novel is interrupted at times by Mathilde's recollections of Dominique, who at the age of six wanted to marry a girl acquaintance of the same age who had 'masterful ways' and held a 'tyranny over him'. A sentence, addressed in thought to the tyrannical girl about Dominique, prepares the reader for the future 'revelation': 'Of the two of you, he was undoubtedly the girl', as does the knowledge that he was 'timid', '[f]ragile', and 'a mother's child': such language served to 'demasculinise' the male child, and (as I have acknowledged in my thesis on Lionel Britton) served to act as a code used by often homosexual writers – as in the examples I give by Rhys Davies and John Hampson – to suggest homosexuality.

Mathilde Casseneuil finds a cache of love letters written to Dominique, and at first believes them to be by a girl whose spelling is bad. As she reads on, though, she discovers that Dominique's lover was a man. She is shocked by what she considers to be an 'abomination', and returns to Paris feeling very differently, very negatively towards her son.

Mathilde eventually decides that Dominique had always been weak, 'too yielding', had become the victim, and she buys a gun to return to Avignon and kill 'the beast' who corrupted her son. But on meeting Gilbert Savinnes, her son's lover, she realises that they have a vital thing in common: her husband never really had the time to know Dominique, whereas here is a man who has something in common with her: they both loved him.

24 January 2014

Joshua Cohen: Witz (2010)

Joshua Cohen's Witz is a trade paperback containing 817 very densely-packed pages published by the wonderful Dalkey Archive Press of Urbana-Champaign, IL. When I began reading it I couldn't help but think of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, William Gaddis's The Recognitions, Jean-Pierre Martinet's Jérôme, James Joyce's Ulysses, Lionel Britton's Hunger and Love, Alexander Theroux's Laura Warholic, Marguerite Young's Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, and of other literary monsters I have known. Now I'm more or less back on planet Earth but still reeling a little from the after effects, I can see that it in some way resembles all of these books.

– Witz  has the ambitious scope of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and that book is obviously a vague background influence – is it merely a coincidence, for instance, that Cohen also mentions Perdue chickens? – but although the word 'witz' means joke, I didn't (unlike Infinite Jest) find the book itself particularly funny.

– It is immensely digressive like Lionel Britton's Hunger and Love, but has an important Oulipian element: it's a book about Jews where the word 'Jew' is never mentioned, being substituted by the expression 'Affiliated'.

– It has an esoteric language in some ways similar to Alexander Theroux's Laura Warholic, although Cohen draws from a huge Yiddish pool. And there are similar long-drawn-out sentences and unconventional compound words.

– As with Marguerite Young's Miss MacIntosh, My Darling – whose sentences are also very long  there are long descriptive passages that hold up the story, only whereas Cohen is concerned with often violent external detail, Young is mainly interested in the lulling strains of the internal monologue.

– In Jonathan Frederick Post's 'An Infinite Frolic of His Own: Joshua Cohen’s Witz' (which of course alludes to works by both Foster Wallace and Gaddis) the author states that the main work he would compare Witz to is the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.  The Jérôme Bauche in Jean-Pierre Martinet's Jérôme, as the 2008 Finitude cover transparently underlines, is clearly an allusion to Bosch.

– I was reminded of the difficulty of William Gaddis's The Recognitions, somewhat akin to E. M. Forster's bizarre but brilliant analogy, in Abinger Harvest, between the meaning of Virginia Woolf's writing and a pen trapped in his coat lining: 'So near, and yet so far!'

– Finally, it is evident that Joyce's Ulysses is an influence behind Witz, as it is an obvious influence (no matter how small) behind any serious work written after 1922.* But understandably, Joshua Cohen was annoyed when an unnamed friend of his father's described Witz as a 'like the Jewish Ulysses', completely ignorant of the fact that, as Cohen states in The Daily Beast (15 June 2010): 'James Joyce’s Ulysses is already the Jewish Ulysses'.

Cohen wrote this in an essay entitled 'The Heirs of Joyce's Ulysses', in which he names the works from twelve different countries as the 'Ulysses' of those countries, including Woolf's Mrs Dalloway as 'The English Ulysses', Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood as 'The Welsh Ulysses', etc. Oddly, there is no French Ulysses, although I certainly feel that Yann Moix's 1142-page Naissance (which I've not yet read but which begins with a baby born as a Jew (without a foreskin) to a Christian couple), which won the prix Renaudot in 2013,  meets Cohen's criteria as a 'Jewish Ulysses'. But a French Ulysses proper? Something from Oulipo?

What is Witz about then? Well, Cohen says '[I]t’s about a Wandering Jew – the Last Jew in the world.' This is after all the Jews in the world (apart from first-born ones) die in a plague on Christmas Eve 1999, although very soon Benjamin Isrealien – a really nice innocent guy, born as an adult complete with glasses and beard and without a foreskin – becomes the only remaining Jew, and a superstar. But maybe that's going too far into the story.

For me, Witz may be very difficult – in fact it's a book I wouldn't recommend to many people because of those difficulties – but Joshua Cohen has produced a fascinating book: one he had a large number of problems getting published, one that at least one publisher wanted him to cut considerably, but that he in the end succeeded in communicating uncut to the world. It certainly won't make him a fortune, but then that clearly isn't his aim: he realises how destructive MFAs can be: 'The M.F.A. is a degree in servitude. [...] It is a way to keep writing safe – to keep reading safe from writing'. Obviously, writers in England would never be interested in such nonsense: they only want to pretend to be innovative, sell books, and, well, just get rich if possible.

At least Joshua Cohen, much as his work may be painful (because so difficult), is trying to push the envelope, not merely going for the cash. I have so much more respect for such writers, rather than those who insist on pretending that 1922 never existed.

*1922 was the year Ulysses and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land were published.

23 January 2014

Hyde Colliery Explosion, 18th January 1889

18th January 1889

This plaque is located near to the site where a
horrific gas explosion in the Hyde Lane Coal Pit
killed 23 men and seriously injured 5 more victims.

The inquest recorded that the explosion took place
at some distance from a shaft, which was known
as the "Two Foot Level", shortly after 9.00 a.m.

The verdict reported that the incident was
accidental and was caused by the use of
naked lights by the miners.

Unveiled by Councillor Joe Kitchen,
Cabinet Deputy of Lifelong Learning,
on February 21st 2001'

Related post below:

Joseph Sidebotham and Haughton, Denton

Jules Romains: Knock ou le triomphe de la Médecine (1924)

Jules Romains's Knock was first performed in 1923 at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées under the direction of Jacques Hébertot. The production and décor were by Louis Jouvet, who also played the role of Knock in the 1951 film, and to whom Romains originally dedicated the book.

The play can be seen as a comical satire on American advertising. Doctor Parpalaid has rather unsuccessfully run a medical practice in the small commune of Saint-Maurice for twenty-five years and is now moving to Lyon. He sells his practice to Dr Knock, who is far more of a businessman than a doctor, having begun his career history by selling ties and peanuts. He applies his sales technique in much the same way to medecine, but trading on people's fear of illness. His first strategy is to pay the town crier – by his good fortune on market day, very shortly after he arrives – to advertise initial free consultations.

Knock's surgery is full of people queuing for the freebie, although he manages to convince them that they have an illness that will require considerable curing, and in this way ensures that his new patients' fears will reap many rewards for him. The more patients he has, the more money he makes: it is of course against his interests to have healthy patients, or more exactly – people who think they're healthy are non-existent patients.

Above all, and like any brilliant salesman, Knock is an excellent psychologist and works on flattering people, getting people on his side: he is, of course, providing such people as the chemist and the hotel keeper with work, so how can they not praise him to the skies?

Psychologically, prestige in the form of titles is also important, and he insists that he be called 'Doctor': it is all the more degrading for Dr Parpalaid, therefore, that the hotel keeper calls him 'Mr'.

Parpalaid is visiting Knock after three months, during which time Knock has made a great deal of money, and his business is thriving to such an extent that people are coming from great distances to see him, and the hotel has difficulty finding a room for him. Knock's triumph is underlined when he easily gets Papalaid to believe that he is sick, although this is of course the triumph of commerce over reality.

We need plays like this, but particularly those adapted to modern times. Where are the Molières and the Jules Romains of today?

Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects (2006)

My literary diet these days largely consists of French books, although I was interested to learn what the fuss was about with Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, which quite impressed me, so I decided to have a go at this earlier work, which is in fact her first novel.

The similar themes between Gone Girl interested me here, and to start with we have the movement from a large urban area to a rural one – here the thirty-year-old Camille Preaker, a rather unsuccessful journalist with a little-known Chicago newspaper is sent to check out the murder of a young girl in the imaginary small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, where she grew up.

Soon after she arrives there's another murder of a young girl, which, like the first murder, involves the extraction of the girl's teeth after her death. We're obviously dealing with a crazy person here, and as it increasingly seems that the primary suspect John Keene is a mere red herring and that the person whodunit is a woman, we're perhaps in the mad woman territory of Gone Girl. Well, yes, only several women here are pretty mad.

Camille is in fact a huge mess from a very dysfunctional family. She is now investigating the murders while living with that family, which includes the mother who's never loved her, the step-father she doesn't really know, and her extremely precocious thirteen-year-old half-sister who is attracted to drugs, sex, and things no one of any age should be attracted to.

Camille is traumatised by her mother's behavior, and by the early death of her younger sister Marian. She hasn't had sex for ten years largely because she used to self-harm, carving a large number of words on herself until almost the only parts of her body that are untouched are her hands and face. Very uneasy now that she's back 'home', she does a lot of drinking while she's investigating, just to attempt to maintain an equilibrium.

This was first published in 2006 but the lack of modern technology makes it read as if it were written (or at least started) some time before: the only reference to the internet, for instance, is right at the end, and that just reads as if it was thrown in as an afterthought. Detective Steve (recruited from Kansas) seems to be the only person with a cell phone: in the USA of the early 21st century? Uh-uh, not even 'in the boot heel [of Missouri]. Spitting distance from Tennessee and Arkansas.' (Cell phones, of course, pose a huge problem in modern novels: life was much more difficult for fictional characters before these pesky devices came along and ruined a good plot.)

Ten-year moratorium on sex or not, Camille manages it with two people in little Wind Gap – almost fully-clothed with Steve (so he won't see all the self-inflicted tattoos, of course), and fully naked with young John Keene (two outsiders relating to each other). Mere respite from the pain.

She discovers that her mother has Munchausen by Proxy, and not only killed Marian but also the two girls. Oh, hang on a minute, that's wrong, as she only killed Marian – it was in fact Amma, with a little help from her friends, who killed the girls.

That final piece of information was a last twist I could have done without, and for me it sent the whole thing into outer space. Which is a pity, as I thought it was fine as it was with just the mother as the killer.

My other Flynn post is below:

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl (2012)

Duncan Staff: The Lost Boy: The Definitive Story of the Moors Murders (2007; rev. 2013)

Duncan Staff's The Lost Boy is a popular rather than a scholarly work: the language is very simple and although there's a reasonable Index there's no Bibliography to indicate where Staff's sources come from, and no footnotes or endnotes. Staff had access to a large amount of Myra Hindley's unpublished autobiographical work so the book understandably concentrates on her biography, although there is also a great deal of material about Ian Brady.

In a little more than two years, between July 1963 and September 1965, five young people from the Manchester area – Pauline Reade (16), John Kilbride (12), Keith Bennett (12), Lesley Ann Downey (10), and Edward Evans (17) – were brutally murdered after (perhaps not in every instance) being sexually assaulted. The murders were pre-meditated and authored by Brady (originally from Glasgow and the product of a broken home and until then guilty of only minor criminal offences) accompanied by Manchester-born Hindley (the victim of physical abuse by an alcoholic father who found some relief by moving in with her maternal grandmother).

Hindley was discontented with living in working-class Gorton a few miles to the east of central Manchester, and dreamed of a life removed from her drab suroundings. Brady lived in nearby Longsight and he too was discontented, saw himself as superior, and the kind of books he read were by such people as Hitler and Nietzsche. They met at work at Millward's Mechandising in Gorton and the rest is a history that refuses to go away.

The more I think about the title the less I like it: The Lost Boy suggests that the emphasis in the book will be on Keith Bennett and his undiscovered remains, but it's not. Furthermore, the subtitle The Definitive Story of of the Moors Murders is clear nonsense because it indicates closure, although the book itself at the end gives the URL of a web site here which is essentially a petition for a renewed search for the remains of Keith Bennett so that he may be given the burial he deserves; Brady is still alive and his death may or may not reveal the whereabouts of the remains. I find the coda about the Staffordshire Ramshaw Rocks photos unconvincing: Staff (and others) may well believe it possible that some could be 'markers' suggesting – much like the Saddleworth Moor photos – that other bodies (perhaps Keith Bennett's even) are buried there. Some readers may find that idea tantalising, although this reader doesn't, but surely the question-marked nature of this coda merely paradoxically reinforces the inappropriateness of the sub-title: far from being a 'Definitive Story', the book itself draws attention to its own lack of definitiveness (cue for a future revised edition?).

I also found Staff's references to 'Myra' and 'Ian' somewhat distasteful – Staff had clearly had a number of communications with Hindley during which he would logically have addressed her by her first name, but the use of first names for this couple throughout the book suggests – for me at least – a kind of matiness that clearly didn't exist: although Staff recognises that Hindley had an inexplicable charisma, he is far from sympathetic towards a woman he realises is a chronic liar attempting to conceal her complicity in a series of callous murders in order to secure release from prison.

It was usual as part of their murder strategy for Brady to provide Hindley with the name of a popular song with an appropriate lyric, such as 'Girl Don't Come'. I was reminded of three popular songs while reading the book: Morrissey's 'Suffer Little Children' is the most obvious, although Crass's more obscure pacifist indictment of hypocrisy 'Mother Earth' ('It's Myra Hindley on the cover') also played in my head. But it's probably a coincidence that Beasley Street is where Hindley lived in Gorton and that the 'Salford bard' John Cooper Clarke wrote a song called 'Beezley Street', although two lines of the song are chillingly true:

'their common problem is
 that they’re not someone else'.

The someone else that Brady and Hindley created was essentially a private world with a population of two, with everyone else being either irrelevant or temporarily useful – but ultimately expendable. Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it should sweep away any illusions a person might have of Hindley merely being a weak, gullible young woman in thrall to a very powerful, egotistical monster. That's perhaps the impression she liked to give, and although Brady is just that, Hindley was still a very callous, devious, scheming person in her own right. Would the Moors murders have happened without her? That of course is impossible to answer, just as we can never have a 'definitive story' of the Moors murders, even when Keith Bennett's remains are found and Brady is dead.

16 January 2014

Musée Carnavalet, 3rd arrondissement, Paris

The Musée Carnavalet is a huge building dedicated to Parisian life. I'm just including here the things that most impressed me, and as might be expected most of those things are of a literary nature, particularly the many paintings of writers. However, I was struck by other things, especially the reconstruction of Georges Fouquet's jewellery shop – opened in 1901 – which was formerly at 6 rue Royale. Fouquet had previously been impressed by the artistic work of Alfons Mucha, so he got him to create a modern shop:

Fouquet was a victim of his own modernity, which of course became old-fashioned and his shop eventually had to be dismantled. He left most of it to the musée Carnavalet in 1938: it looks superb, of course.
Émile Zola obviously intended to hang on to his fob watch.

Alphonse Daudet's glasses, with case.

The poet François Coppée (1842–1908) by Alberto Melillo (1866–1908), in his Académie française rigout: he was elected in 1884.

Colette (1873–1954) dressed à la Claudine – anonymous.
Alfred Grévin (1827–92) by Frédéric Bogino (1831–99). Grévin began with the Journal amusant, continuing from 1869 with Almanac des Parisiens, and became famous in 1882 for the wax museum that bears his name.
There are three reconstructed rooms:
Anna de Noailles (1876–1933) became famous after the publication of Le Coeur innombrable (1901), and was one of the most well-known women of her time. She lived in her appartment in rue Scheffer from 1906 to 1933 and received many visitors to her famous chambre aux cretonnes. In her bed, like her friend Marcel Proust, she did most of her writing.
The bedroom of Marcel Proust (1871–1922).
The bedroom of Paul Léautaud (1872–1956). As the plaque at the side says, his Le Petit ami and especially Journal littéraire are significant elements in 20th century French literature. He detested conformity, was very cynical, very funny, and very original. From 1912 to 1956 he lived in Fontenay-aux-Roses, where he wrote his most important works.
Now whoever does that remind me of? Oddly, Léautaud seems to have fancied himself as a bit of a queutard.
Famously, Léautaud had a large number of cats, and his grave here featured (until it was removed) a curled-up one.
Some of the following photos unavoidably attracted more light than was needed:
Roland Dorgelès (1886–1973) by Louis Marcoussis. He is the author of Croix de bois (1919) about life in the trenches. This painting is from Dorgelès's younger years, the time of Bohemian Montmartre, when for instance he carried out his famous 'Boronali' spoof of modern art actually 'created' by Lolo the donkey. My previous post on the affair is here.
René Crevel (1900–35) by Jacques-Émile Blanche. Crevel was a strong critic of bourgeois mores who was obsessed with death and in fact killed himself because, his friend Klaus Mann claimed, he was afraid of madness, in fact believed the world to be mad.
Jean Rostand (1894–1977), biologist and writer, by Léonard Foujita.
'Nathalie Clifford Barney ou l'Amazone' by Romaine Brooks. The relationship between Nathalie Barney (1876–1972) and Romaine Brooks (1874–1970) – who was in a kind of marriage of convenience with her bisexual husband John Ellington Brooks – is perhaps not as well known as that of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, although both couples were American ex-patriots who were together for a long period.
Jules Romains (1885–1972) by Paul Émile Bécat. Romains wrote plays satirising human quirks (such as Knock (1923)) , but is best known for his huge Balzacian work Les Hommes de bonne volonté (1932–47), which is in twenty-seven volumes and strives to reflect the society of the time.
'Jean Cocteau dans le jardin d'Offranville' by Jacques-Émile Blanche. Last year marked 150 years after the death of the poet, novelist, painter and film director Cocteau (1889–1963), who was born in Maisons-Laffitte, where there was a small exhibition of his life outside the town hall, and which I shall post up soon.

Paul Valéry (1871–1945) by Jean-Eugène Bersier. To my shame (as he is an important Franch writer) I know very little about Valéry, although a useful note at the side (only in French of course) summarisies things well enough. After initially being attracted by the hedonism of André Gide and Pierre Louÿs, from 1894 he was more influenced by the abstractions of Mallarmé (see my findings on Mallarmé in Vulaines-sur-Seine here). Although La Jeune Parque (1917) made Valéry's name, it's in his Cahiers where his most important thoughts can be read.
Georges Courteline (1858–1929) by Léopold Stevens. Courteline (né Moinaux or Moineau) was a playwright and novelist and inventor of the conomètre (think of 'con' as being one of the words for 'stupid' in French), which was a glass filled with alcohol designed to measure the stupidity of people, but that's another story. The note at the side here calls him a 'depicter of idiocy', and that seems accurate.
Anatole France (1844–1924) by Eugène Carrière. I've written a couple of paragraphs on Anatole France before when posting his grave up here.
Edmond de Goncourt (1822–96) by Eugène Carrière again. Noted for his realist novels along with his brother Jules, and (something not mentioned on the note at the side) it was of course Edmond's will that created the Académie Goncourt.
Alphonse Daudet (1840–97) by Louis Montegut. Daudet, most noted for his popular Lettres de mon moulin (1866) – and the mill is a glorious sight in Fontvieille, Provence – and his more humorous works on mock-heroic Tartarin.
Victorien Sardou (1831–1908) by Auguste de La Brely. A representation of the salon of the highly prolific playwright whose major successes were written with Sarah Bernhardt in mind.
François Coppée (1842–1908) by Antoine Rochegrosse. Coppée is briefly mentioned above, and there is a link to my post on his grave in the Cimetière du Montparnasse here.
Henri Rochefort (1830–1913) by Auguste Baud-Bovy. Rochefort was a journalist and politician whose writings in La Lanterne, strongly in opposition to the Empire, were banned. He was exiled in 1872 for his support for the Commune. On his return eight years later, he became a nationist and supported Boulanger.
Louise Michel (1830–1905) by Louis Tinayre. Louise Michel was another exiled supporter of the Commune, and I have an extensive post about her here.
Jules Vallès (1832–85) by Gustav Courbet. The journalist and novelist was imprisoned several times during the Second Empire, and was a member of the Commune. He is most remembered for his novels L'Enfant (1879), Le Bachelier (1885) and L'Insurgé (1886).
Félix Pyat (1810–89) by Édouard Chantalat. Pyat was the author of many plays and far left deputé in 1848. He lived in exile during the Second Empire and was a member of the Commune.
Prosper Mérimée (1803–70) by Simon Rochard. Mérimée is noted as the author of Vénus d'Ille, Colomba and Carmen. He was the first inspector of historic monuments.
Apollonie Sabatier (1822–89) by Gustave Ricard. Sabatier is perhaps best known as an inspiration behind Baudelaire, particularly behind Les Fleurs du mal.
Marie d'Agoult (1805–76) by Henri Lehman. In a previous post on Marie d'Agoult's tomb, I didn't mention, as the caption at the side of this painting does, the love affair between her and Liszt, and her being his inspiration. This link is here.
Alphonse de Lamartine ( 1790–1869) by François Gérard.
Alfred de Vigny (1797–1863) by François Kinson. He is about the age of seventeen here, in sub-lieutenant's uniform, an experience which served him for Servitude et grandeur militaireMy post on Vigny in Le Maine Giraud and Champagne-Vigny is here.

Xavier Privas: Cimetière parisien de Saint-Ouen #3

Xavier Privas (1863–1927) was a singer-songwriter – known as the rather old-fashioned 'chansonnier' on the grave here – and poet. The top photo was taken in 1913.

Suzanne Valadon: Cimetière parisien de Saint-Ouen #2

File:Suzanne Valadon Photo.jpg
Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938) was a circus acrobat at fifteen, then an artists' model before becoming a painter herself. She is the mother of the artist Maurice Utrillo, and there is a musée Utrillo-Valadon at Sannois, Val-d'Oise.