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Alphonsine changed her name to the more stylish Marie, worked hard at becoming a refined companion for an educated man and attained an appreciation of the arts. She took up horseback riding and always practiced her dancing, the one art at which she had been proficient. An English gentleman recalling Marie said 'Her inbred tact and instinctive delicacy compensated for a totally inadequate education. Whatever she recognized as admirable in her friends she strove to master herself, so that her natural appeal was enhanced by the flower of her intelligence.'

Alexandra Deshorties as Violetta and Sean Panikkar as Alfredo in the final scene of 'La Traviata'. Photo © 2008 Scott Humbert
Alexandra Deshorties as Violetta and Sean Panikkar as Alfredo in the final scene of 'La Traviata'. Photo © 2008 Scott Humbert

Alexandre Dumas the younger had an affair with her for the better part of a year, but he could not afford her bills so he made sure she did not leave her rich patron. He had also learned that she was terminally ill. Marie consulted the famous Dr C J Davaine, who was later to isolate the anthrax bacteria, but he did little for her. She also saw a flamboyant charlatan named Koreff who prescribed strychnine which worsened her condition.

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Copyright © 4 May 2008 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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