Cimetière Protestant, 3 Avenue de Palavas, 34070 Montpellier, France
Jeanne Galzy (September 30, 1883 – May 7, 1977) was a lesbian French writer. Although her novels and artistic work has largely been left out of the canon and forgotten, Galzy was a staple of the French artistic community in the 1920s and has been dubbed one of the “pioneers in the writing of lesbian desire and despair.”
Galzy was born as Louise Jeanne Baraduc on September 30, 1883 in Montpellier, France. Her parents were wealthy poets who were heavily involved in the literary world. Due to their wealth, Galzy was able to attend some of the top schools of her time, such as the École normale supérieure de jeunes filles in Sèvres, and immersed herself in academia. After passing the notoriously difficult agrégation exam, she went on to become the first woman to teach at a boys’ school in Montpellier in 1915.
Not long after beginning her teaching career, Jeanne contracted tuberculosis and was sent to convalesce in Berck. While on bedrest, she began writing her first novel, Les Allongés, which would win the Prix Femina Literary Award in 1923. She kept teaching for a while, but eventually found enough financial stability to make writing her career. By the end of her life, she had published 5 novels, written a play, received multiple literary awards, and even served as a member on the Prix Femina jury. Her most famous novel, L’Initiatrice aux mains vides/Burnt Offering was published in 1929 and tells the story of a clandestine lesbian relationship between a student and a teacher. In 1930, it won the Prix Brentano Literary Award and it is commonly believed that the novel was inspired by Galzy’s own lesbianism and the sexual experiences she had during her own school days at all girls’ academies.
Jeanne would pass away on May 7, 1977. At the time of her death, she was a celebrated hometown hero and the pride of Montpellier, but as time has gone on, her contributions to lesbian literature and culture have faded from history. Today, only one of her novels has been translated into English and none of her books are still in print.
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