All your admirers are thinking about you today! x
|Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge||
A very happy 153rd Birthday to the undisputed Queen of the Moulin Rouge... Jane Avril.
All your admirers are thinking about you today! x
I very nearly decided it was time to leave this website behind me after 11 years but I couldn't quite bring myself to delete it. I honestly thought I had taken all things Jane as far as I could and said all the things that had to be said.
So, what then changed my mind?
Well, I came across an excellent page called, 'Marina's Muses' and I was moved to see that Marina had created a most wonderful tribute to Jane and it made me fall in love with her all over again. I have just re-read the excellent but somewhat romanticised biography, Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge by Jose Shercliff and following on from that I decided that rather than delete this website I would instead update and refresh it.
This website still serves as a useful reference guide to those who are new to Jane or for those who are undertaking projects that are closely connected with Jane. Such a resource should not be lost and I thank all those of you who have contacted me over the years telling me how much you enjoyed the content and how useful it has been.
The link to, 'Marina's Muses' is https://marinamade.me/2020/07/28/jane-avril-toulouse-lautrec/
Enjoy - Here's to another decade!
It's easy to admire Jane Avril who was born today 152 years ago in 1868. After all, she was the celebrity of her day. (when fame actually meant something) The undisputed Queen of Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge who had a sense for style and had the artistic masters of her time paying court to her.
But, these are just the obvious reasons. In her youth Jane (then Jeanne) suffered from serious domestic abuse at the hands of her cruel and evil mother who beat her often within an inch of her life. To overcome this and to go on to become THE shining light in Paris in the 1890s is all the more reason to celebrate her life.
"I was too proud to cry, but anyway, my mother threatened me with such terrible vengeance if I ever breathed a word to anyone, that that alone froze me into silence. Ah, the nights I spent with my body black and blue and aching from her beatings! But she was clever, as clever as she was evil, for she took care never to mark my face. As the blows rained on me I used to whisper deep down inside myself "oh, stop...stop...stop" But no one ever heard my plea."
A quite remarkable woman!
On this day 77 years ago in 1943 the great Jane Avril passed away on a cold night in Paris.
"I was loved and in return I love, I loathe the material side of existence. I wanted life to be all love, all happiness."
I hope she is dancing still.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Welcome back to the "Roaring 20s!"
I am not aware of any films about Oscar’s life that focuses solely on his post prison exploits under the assumed name of Sebastian Melmoth. The recent release of Rupert Everett’s film about the final years of Oscar Wilde was uncomfortable viewing. That said, I think it’s important to focus on the damage not only to his reputation, his health but also on his wife Constance (Played by Emily Watson), his children and friends. Yes, many friends deserted him, (“my friends will call me Oscar; my enemies will call me Wilde “ Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders – Gyles Brandreth 2008) only the ever faithful Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) and a few others stood by him after his release. His wife Constance set boundaries with respect to finance and his children were denied the presence of a father who loved them dearly. He was a broken man susceptible to illness that in the end destroyed him. He survived by acts of kindness, generosity and allowances and he was never again welcomed into London society and the clubs that once adored and welcomed him. He spent his remaining years in exile in France and Italy.
I will only mention Lord Alfred Douglas (Colin Morgan) once and that is only to say that his portrayal in the film continues the theme of a spoilt, conceited and selfish individual following on from where the Stephen Fry film of 1997 left off with Jude Law playing Oscar’s “Bosie”.
The passing of time and the change in social culture has once more elevated Oscar Wilde to his rightful place and I have no doubt he would have been a celebrated television personality with his own talk show and touring around the country with his award winning one man show had he been around today. That said, I’d like to think he would turn his back on the television medium and focus more on further plays, novels and short stories. Oh, to think of the work he could have produced! Yes, he was ahead of his time but he paid a high price for his “sins” which would be considered mere tittle tattle by modern standards.
Bringing The Happy Prince to the big screen was a labour of love for Everett who not only starred as the great man but also directed and produced the movie – no mean feat!
This is a fine and welcome addition to the Wilde biopics that have hit the silver screen throughout the last 60 years.
Oscar Wilde died in Paris in 1900 and is buried at Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
I know I have been silent lately but just wanted to share a link to a marvellous website that I have discovered recently.
If like me, you are a bit obsessed with the 1890s then you'll appreciate the fine efforts of this particular theatre company.
I recently enjoyed their wonderful, "Tea with Oscar" which has left a mark on me.
Formed in 2010, Don’t go into the Cellar are the UK’s finest practitioners of theatrical Victorians in a macabre vein. The company is based in the heart of the West Midlands, and the region has links with some of the greatest Victorian and Edwardian genre writers
Using a talented and versatile troupe of professionally-trained actors and crew, we perform at theatres, festivals and events across the United Kingdom. Artistic Director Jonathan Goodwin both writes and performs in each show, bringing a lifelong love of Victorian detective, ghost and horror stories to the fore. His commitment to detail and understanding of fin de siècle Zeitgeist ensures that audiences are guaranteed a splendidly authentic slice of stage-frights! Technical Director Gary Archer shares this fascination with old-time classics of popular genre fiction, but adds a twenty-first century twist! His effective and innovative use of digital technology succeeds in pumping new blood into these gothic gems, to create an exciting theatrical experience for audiences dying to see their favourite nineteenth-century heroes and villains come to life before them.
I'm looking forward to seeing more of their superb productions!
American novelist Mark Pryor contacted me recently informing that he would be in Paris in December and wondered if I fancied joining him. I didn't have to wait for him to ask twice.
This isn't new territory to be fair since we met on 19th August 2015 which happened to be the first birthday of my youngest son Edward (Teddy). We met at Le Deux Magots as any serious writer would want and he generously endorsed his then latest novel with a wonderful inscription that will one day go some way to explaining my absence from Teddy's Birthday Celebrations. Sorry Teddy xxx
For those who don't know, Mark Pryor is America's Number 1 crime writer(my opinion) and author of the Hugo Marston Murder Mysteries that are set in modern Paris. They are well worth reading if you fancy intelligent plots, wonderful characters and a beautiful backdrop. Check out Amazon and you'll easily find all his works including the psychological thriller "Hollow Man" and his telling of a real life investigation of a brutal murder in "As She Lay Sleeping."
It will be great to meet up again and chat about literature, arts and politics. Much has changed since we last met not least a new American President. Sadly, I will be without my usual travelling companion Tom as he has set his plans firmly elsewhere where the sun burns a little brighter. So yes, for the first time I take on the City of Paris on my own. Daunting? Yes, a little, but at the same time I have beautiful Paris all to myself and that presents many potential opportunities. I couldn't be anymore excited.
I certainly haven't had the opportunity to visit Paris this close to Christmas. I fly out on Thursday 14th December 2017 and so I expect to see the City in a festive mood and lit up brightly perhaps even more than it usually is.
As ever, I'm staying in Montmartre very close to the Chat Noir and the Moulin Rouge so I will be in familiar surroundings.
Even as I type this I'm thinking like crazy about new sites to visit but I'm not committing just yet as I keep changing my mind with each passing day.
One thing I can say with certainty is that I'll be retuning to Pere Lachaise Cemetery to visit old friends and new. As always, I'll visit Jane Avril and adorn her grave with flowers as it always should be and then to Oscar Wilde. This is a tradition that I have maintained on all my trips to Paris and that's also because I just never know when I'll return. I like to sit with them both and reflect on their lives and all they stood for.
I've spent quite a lot of time these past 2 years away from Paris reading the works of Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway so I'll be looking to visit haunts that they favoured. I suspect I'll be visiting the graves of both Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas who knew both Fitz and Hemingway. I don't know if any of you have ever read the works of Gertrude Stein but it isn't easy. It's very much like trying to swim through treacle.
So after a gap of 2 years Paris is calling me again and like last time I'll be chronicling my trip with a view to sharing this latest adventure with you all.
Hey, while I'm here if any of you know of any exciting places in Paris to visit especially this time of year feel free to message me and provide me with some inspiration.
Well, it's been a little time since my last post. Nothing new to add at the moment with regards to Jane but be assured this website still means as much to me today as it did when I created it.
I've decided to give it a new look. I haven't gone overboard with it just thought it would make it look a little more modern.
Hope you like it.
I couldn't let another day go by without remarking about the sad passing of Zsa Zsa Gabor at the grand old age of 99. Quite naturally I will always remember her for her portrayal of Jane Avril in John Houston's film Moulin Rouge made in 1952. Although, the portrayal did not resemble in anyway my own image of Jane, I still have to applaud the effort in bringing Jane to a 50s audience some 9 years after Jane valsed her way into immortality.
She was a witty woman with some killer one liners but I'll instead quote her from the film in the role of Jane Avril.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: "Well, Jane, what a long road you have travelled. Only a few years ago you were singing for your supper, and here you are a full-fledged star at 29."
Jane Avril: "25!"
Henri: "Of course, I beg your pardon. 25."
Jane Avril: "I have been 25 for 4 years, and I shall stay there for another 4. Then I'll be 27 for a while. I intend to grow old gracefully!"
RIP Zsa Zsa.