A set of love letters penned by Edith Piaf to her cycling champion lover Louis Gerardin have been published in France.
The great chanteuse’s passionate months-long affair with the married Gerardin inspired a torrent of flowery, emotional missives, dotted with spelling mistakes and crossings-out, that reveal Piaf’s fragility and desperate need to be loved back.
“You have taken me like no other man has ever done, and I have given you what I have never before given, which is to say: myself!” wrote Piaf in early 1952 to her blond blue-eyed lover.
Three years her senior at 39, Gerardin was the object of Piaf’s passion from November 1951 to September 1952, during which time she wrote over 50 letters to her lover, nicknamed “Toto.” Piaf wrote of her desire to have a baby with Gerardin, and offered to give up her singing career to be with him, yet her letters suggest an undercurrent of insecurity and desperation and a love that was not fully reciprocated.
“If you could write me, that would please me, but if it bothers you, don’t do it!” Piaf wrote on Jan 25, 1952.
Gerardin reportedly said of his mistress: “Forty eight hours with Piaf are more tiring than a lap in the Tour de France.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.