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Flaubert’s flame

While writing a biography of a Victorian grande dame, I unearthed an unexpected - and previously unknown - trove of letters between her and Gustave Flaubert

By David Waller   July 2009

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One afternoon in the spring of 1876, a 56 year old English widow toiled up the stairs of Number 240, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, to the apartment of the greatest living French author. She pressed on the doorbell and was told by the maid that the novelist was not at home.

Gertrude Tennant refused to leave her name but was encouraged to come back the following day. On her return, she was ushered into the living room where a man was sitting with his back to the door. Before he could turn…

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