Catherine Hewitt

Catherine’s first biography, Valtesse de la Bigne: A Courtesan’s Conquest of Paris (Icon, 2015), was awarded the runner-up’s prize in the 2012 Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian competition. The biography traces the incredible tale of the bewitching courtesan, the Countess Valtesse de la Bigne, who clawed her way up from humble, impoverished origins to become one of the most sought-after and glamorous women in Paris. Her lovers included countless painters, writers and politicians, while her affairs with women caused a scandal in turn-of-the-century Paris.

Renoir’s Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon (Icon, 2017) explores the life of the woman considered to be the Impressionists’ most beautiful model, herself a talented artist. Suzanne had affairs with a number of the most renowned painters of the day, and gave birth to an illegitimate son, the future painter Maurice Utrillo. But, from a working class background and with no formal training, she pursued her artistic career, and in 1894 was accepted to the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Catherine has a long career in academia, with a special interest in 19th-century French art, literature and social history. Having completed her PhD on The Formation of the Family in 19th-Century French Literature and Art in 2012, Catherine set out to use her academic training to bring history and people alive for a mainstream audience. She now lectures regularly, writes, translates and runs workshops on 19th-century French art, literature and social history.

Catherine lives in a village in Surrey. When she is not working, she can be found helping restore her family’s cottage in the middle of rural France.