Marie Duplessis – The Fabulous Yet Tragic Destiny of France’s Most Celebrated Courtesan

Marie Duplessis ​​was a French courtesan and mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men. She was born Alphonsine Plessis on 15 January 1824, to Marin Plessis, a peddler,​​ and Marie-Louse Deshayes, a local farmer’s daughter. Marie was not born out of love but alcohol, violence and disappointment. Her father was​​ an uncouth man rumoured to be the illegitimate son of a prostitute and a priest. Her exceptional beauty and charm win her a devoted following, and she attracts her first important client: ​​Agénor de Guiche, later one of Napoleon III’s ministers. ​By the age of 17 she meets and begins a liaison with Comte Edouard de Perregaux, but because he could not give her all she needed she did not devote herself to him exclusively. Marie however, takes another patron, an octogenarian Swidish diplomat named Count Von Stakelberg.​​ Like so many other courtesans, she established a salon at her residence, and many of the Parisian bright minds​​ gathered there; ​among them was Alexandre Dumas fils, the as-yet-undistinguished son of the famed adventure novelist. ​​​Her next lover was the famous composer, Franz Liszt.​​