Monday, March 26, 2012
Though she died of tuberculosis when she was only twenty-three, Marie Duplessis (born Alphonsine Rose Plessis in Normandy, France, in 1824) has a novel (La Dame aux le Camelias by Alexander Dumas), an opera (La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi), and several movies (named "Camille") written about her. Discovering at age sixteen that wealthy and prominant men were willing to give her money and gifts to spend time with her, she was soon the toast of Paris. In-your-face women, however, rarely give less than their best. So Duplessis learned to read and write, stayed current on what was happening in the world, and hosted a popular salon where famous politicians, writers, and artists regularly gathered for stimulating conversation and socializing. When she died, not one, but two of her former lovers were holding her hands and hundreds came to her funeral. Not bad for one so young.