Join us for the official book launch of Céleste: The Parisian Courtesan Who Became a Countess and Bestselling Writer. Friday 23 September, at 10.30 am at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
Céleste was a courtesan, countess and bestselling author. Céleste is the tempestuous true story of a woman far ahead of her time. The true story of the Countess Céleste de Chabrillan is a rich and tempestuous tale of an extraordinary woman.
Guest Speaker: Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam
Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam has been serving as Senator for French citizens living abroad since September 2004 (being re-elected in September 2011). A lawyer by training, she had worked as a consultant for numerous national and international institutions. She had also been continuously elected to the High Council of French Expatriates (CSFE), now the Assembly of French Expatriates (AFE), between 1998 until her entry in the Senate to represent the French living in the UK and Ireland. She was the first vice-president of that body (of which the Chair was the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs) between 2000 and 2003.
Born in the gutters of Paris in 1824, Céleste made her name as a dancer in the Parisian dance halls, where it is said she invented the can-can. Then, as an equestrienne at the Paris hippodrome, her daring feats on horseback thrilled the crowds. However, it was as the city's most celebrated courtesan that the young Parisian found genuine fame and fortune. Strikingly beautiful and charismatic, her lovers included famous novelists, artists and composers, not least Georges Bizet, whom, many believe, based his free and fearless Carmen on Céleste. But when Céleste married the Count de Chabrillan, a prominent member of the French aristocracy, Parisian society was scandalised. And when the pair turned up in far off Australia, where the count served as the first French consul, Melbourne society was scandalised in turn. Later a bestselling memoirist, novelist, playwright and librettist, the remarkable Countess Céleste de Chabrillan was, indeed, a woman far ahead of her time.