Paul was doing his national service as a corporal in the 102nd Infantry regiment in August 1914 when war started. He was sent to the front and was injured a few weeks later. Later in November he lost a finger on his right hand and was accused of self-mutilation. He was found not guilty and told to return to the front. However he chose to desert.
As healthy young men not in uniform attracted much attention, he decided to shave his moustache and to transvest as Suzanne Landgard. Louise found new lodgings. For two years, he stayed in while his hair grew and “destroying the hair roots with electricity”. He made a small living taking in sewing. Louise worked as an artist and cartoonist.
While Paul had never previously worn women’s clothes, he found that he quite enjoyed it.
“I became interested in my appearance as a woman. I began to forget that I was a man. I finally acquired a certain pride in looking pretty.”Towards the end of the war Suzanne found a factory job, and began to attend the night cabarets of Montmartre and Montparnasse, where she flirted with men.
|La famille 1926|
Finally this had gone too far and Louise shot him, dead. Three weeks later, the child, two years and eight months, died from tubercular meningitis. After a sensational trial, Louise was acquitted, quickly remarried and lived until 1981.
- Paul Grappe. “Lived as a Woman for 10 Years”. The Milwaukee Journal, Apr 5, 1925. http://tinyurl.com/cve98rr.
- “The Historic Instance of ‘Suzanne Langlarde’”. London Life, September 22nd, 1928: 22. Reprinted in Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London Life, 1923-1933. Garston: Karn, 2000: 287-8.
- Fabrice Virgili and Danièle Voldman. La garçonne et l'assassin. Histoire de Louise et de Paul, déserteur travesti, dans le Paris des années folles. Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2011.
- “Le Travesti de 14-18”. BibliObs, 09-06-2011. http://bibliobs.nouvelobs.com/essais/20110609.OBS4809/le-travesti-de-14-18.html.