Frederic Chopin and George Sand
When Frederic Chopin died in 1849, they found a little envelope in the back of his diary. The letters "G F" (for George and Frederic) were stitched into it, and it contained a lock of George Sand's hair. He adored Sand; she was his nurse, companion and substitute mother, as well as his muse and lover. Originally Amandine Aurore Dupin, she was a novelist and proto-feminist who dressed in mannish clothes and smoked in public. She married the stolid Baron Dudevant when she was 19, but left him nine years later to embark on a "romantic rebellion". She and Chopin met at a party given by Franz Liszt's mistress, the Countess d'Agoult. "What a repulsive woman Sand is!" Chopin said to a friend. "Is she really a woman? I'm inclined to doubt it." But he invited her to a recital of his work, and they found a passionate connection. By the summer of 1838, their affair was public. They holidayed in Majorca with Sand's son, but their unmarried status incensed the locals, and the trio were obliged to stay in a chilly ex-monastery. Chopin had a piano sent from home and, over five weeks, composed several piano pieces with astonishing fluency. But his health (he suffered from tuberculosis ) deteriorated, and Sand told friends that she had become more a nurse than a lover to her "child", "sufferer" and "little angel". They fell out over a book - her novel Lucrezia Floriani, in which a rich actress nurses a sick prince - and severed relations in 1847. Chopin died two years later, at 39. His friends accused her of shortening his life. But for a period she was his greatest muse - and she was the love of his life.