Sarah Bernhardt

“Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”

Sarah Bernhardt, French actress, 1844-1923

Known as “the divine Sarah” and dubbed “the Golden Voice” by Victor Hugo, Sarah Bernhardt was a legendary actress known the world over for her powerful stage performances. Born out of wedlock, she was sent to a convent, and later, through the influence of her mother’s paramour (a Duke) she studied acting at the Paris Conservatoire. At the famous Comédie Française, she starred in the plays of luminaries Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo and Jean Cocteau, and is one of the first women ever to have played Hamlet.

Known for her eccentricity, she kept a menagerie of exotic animals and preferred to learn her lines while reclining in a silk-lined coffin. She was a muse to French artist René Lalique, who designed her stage jewellery. The Lalique collections have also featured beetles and parrots, two of her favorite creatures. In 1906, the French flower breeder M. Lemoine was inspired to create a flower in her name, the fragrant Sarah Bernhardt peony that has a double bloom and was bred “in the spirit of showmanship.” 


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