Blanche Monnier, a tragic French socialite who was locked in a dark room for 25 years
Portrait colourisation of Blanche Monnier, a tragic French socialite who was locked in a dark room by her mother and brother for 25 years. Her crime? Falling in love with the "wrong" men and wanting to marry against her family wishes
Blanche Monnier (French pronunciation: 1 March 1849 – 13 October 1913), often known in France as la Séquestrée de Poitiers (roughly, "The Confined Woman of Poitiers"),was a woman from Poitiers, Vienne, France, who was secretly kept locked in a small room by her aristocratic mother for 25 years. She was eventually found by police, then middle-aged and in an emaciated and filthy condition; according to officials, Monnier had not seen any sunlight for her entire captivity.
Monnier was a French socialite from a well-respected, conservative bourgeoisie family in Poitiers of old noble origins. She was renowned for her physical beauty, and attracted many potential suitors for marriage. In 1874, at the age of 25, she desired to marry an older lawyer who was not to her mother Louise's liking; she argued that her daughter could not marry a "penniless lawyer". Her disapproving mother, angered by her daughter's defiance, locked her in a tiny, dark room in the attic of their home, where she kept her secluded for 25 years. Louise Monnier and her brother Marcel continued on with their daily lives, pretending to mourn Blanche's death. None of her friends knew where she was, and the lawyer who she wished to marry died unexpectedly in 1885. On 23 May 1901, the "Paris Attorney General" received an anonymous letter – the author of which is still unknown – that revealed the incarceration:
Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honour to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier's house, half-starved and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years – in a word, in her own filth.
Monnier was rescued by police from appalling conditions, covered in old food and feces, with bugs all around the bed and floor, weighing barely 25 kilograms (55 lb).
One policeman described the state of Monnier and her bed thus: