Taylor Swift is one of the most searched and discussed people on this planet. She has been living in the public eye, since high school, for almost two decades now. A publication aptly called her name the number one click magnet of today’s time. When a person is studied so much in the media, she is bound to draw comparisons and parallelisms.
Her art, her personality, her private life, her beliefs, and her views are all talked about constantly. Apart from her contemporaries, a few household names from history come up more often than one can count. Her songwriting is compared to the works of Shakespeare, her love life to Elizabeth Taylor. Although, some names don’t come up that often. People that she has more in common with don’t share a sentence with her as much.
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Her fascinating life and diverse music make her a subject of widespread public discussion. It is common for fans to think of her and her work while reading a book or watching a movie. People, myself included, see Swift in the subject of an artwork. Sometimes we find out about the lesser-known and forgotten names from Swift herself.
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Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 1873-1954
One of the most celebrated French authors of the last century, Colette was a revolutionary. Her work was as grand as her life and it is still debated to this day. Her prolific writing and scandalous love life were often the subjects of news and film. She was rebellious with her views on expression and adventures of female sexuality. Her creativity challenged the patriarchal French society. Concerned with the female expression of love and sorrow, her fearless methodology transcends time and geography. She lived as she wanted and inspired generations to take up art and literature.
She was a journalist, a critic, a beautician, a stage artist, and a novelist. Her life was rich, but her life’s work was even more so. Papers called her radical and obscene when she was alive, then switched to revolutionary and iconic after her passing. Much like the female authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, she rejected the societal norms that holed up women in their houses. Despite the bold and spirited demeanor, her life wasn’t short of troubles and controversy. It was not an easy journey for her, much like Swift.
Buy complete works of Colette here
Why Taylor Swift fans should read about them
Born in small towns, these two women at young ages were women with big dreams. As Colette moved to Paris and became an artist, Swift moved to Nashville and found international fame as a country superstar. Colette was an acclaimed writer, married to a man who used her literary talents to fill his pockets. She ghost-wrote for him, under his name, for years before she eventually left the toxic relationship. Likewise, Swift has had her life’s work stolen by a couple of greedy men as well. Colette was a true businesswoman just like Swift.
Also, her talent for self-criticism and self-introspection reminds one of Swift as well. Swift has said in the past that she “hated” her previous album to move on from it. Colette was close to her loving mother, just as Swift is, and often sighted her as a motivation and inspiration. Interestingly, both mothers have appeared in their daughter’s works as well. Both women value financial stability and economic independence for women. They see it as a crucial step toward building a better society.
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Rebekah Harkness, 1915-1982
She was eccentric. There’s not a word in all of the English language to describe this woman, but this. Her immensely crazy, ultra-luxurious, and downright ostentatious life and lifestyle have been subjects of mainstream media discussion for decades. Stories of her revolting behavior and incredulous actions can and have filled pages upon pages in books and magazines. Like the time she filled the swimming pool with Dom Perignon for an outrageous weekend party or when she ruined her sister’s debutante ball by putting mineral oil in the punch.
Raised by an au pair who used to work in an insane asylum (her parents reportedly hired the woman specifically for that fact), her childhood was as one can expect in a dysfunctional family. Her parents were neglectful of her all her life, but they very well showed up in time whenever they wanted to criticize her body or thoughts. It’s not a surprise that she turned out the way she did, not in the least.
Read Blue Blood by Craig Unger to know more about her
At her high-end finishing school attended by rich spoilt brats and political offsprings, she made a group of friends- who called themselves the “Bitch Pack.” A name aptly suited for the group, given the havoc their actions laid everywhere they went. Their chaos ranged from stripping in the middle of a banquet atop a dinner table to getting kicked out of a cruise liner for obscenely loud profanities. The list goes on. She threw plates at the orchestra, swam buck-naked in the ship’s pools, and shouted cuss words at the guests before being asked to deboard.
A string of marriages to men she used to her advantage followed her Bitch Pack days. She confessed that she married her first husband because she “had nothing else to do.” Her marriage to her second husband, William Harkness, throttled her into a new social circle. Her lavish parties and extravagant lifestyle broke all barriers when they bought their Holiday House in Rhode Island. What followed was an over-the-top Gatsby life, with huge parties, expensive outfits, in-house ballet productions. Bad parenting, worse grandparenting, careless expenditures, and failed ventures. You name it.
Contribute to Harkness Foundation here
Why Taylor Swift fans should read about them
To begin with, Swift wrote a song about her. On her Album of The Year awarded folklore, she pens the vast tale of Harkness in the song The Last Great American Dynasty. Well, she tries to sum it up. The lyrics go on and on and on, but she barely scratched the surface. Swift’s Rhode Island residence (bought in 2013) is the same house she sings about in the song. Swift was known for her July 4th parties, nicknamed “Taymerica,” which she hosted in the lawns. Gigantic inflatables and bounce rides filled the area, which the press and the neighbors found to be eyesores, much like the time Harkness installed a big, blue geodesic dome for her ballet practice.
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Moreover, she likens herself to her portrayal as a mad woman by the tabloids, much like her muse. Both women have been called paranoid, jealous, narcissistic, and self-absorbed. Taylor Swift revealed that she had wanted to write a song about Harkness for some time but couldn’t figure out how to put the story in a single track.
Furthermore, Harkness had been incredibly generous with her money, donating excessive amounts to ballet, the New York Hospital, and research for Parkinson’s disease. Similarly, Swift has often been named the most charitable musician, most notedly donating to fans in need of support.
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Loie Fuller, 1862-1928
Explicitly dubbed by time as a “magician of light,” Fuller was the pioneer of modern dance and theatre. She was a dancer, a designer, an innovator, and much, much more. When she danced, her body danced in perfect synchronization with her beautiful flowing dresses. The fabric twirled like liquid electricity in the presence of a magical and captivating light show. Eventually, a paper aptly said that she taught the light to dance, and the statement is inarguably a fact.
Born in America, made in France, that’s what she said. Basically in hopes of finding a better professional and personal life, she moved across the pond after people copied and stole her ideas. She continued to create and innovate new stage lighting techniques and free-flowing silk dresses. Eventually, she decided to stay in Paris after the warm welcome she received in the art community there. She patented dozens of ideas and became identified with Symbolism, a movement where artists portrayed absolute truths through symbols and metaphors. It was in response to the previous movements like Impressionism, Naturalism, and Realism that depicted nature in a realistic sense.
Read more about Loie Fuller here
Rise To Fame
Her ebbing and fluidic china silks against a colorful backdrop and lively lighting started a new age of dance culture. At the heart of the Art Nouveau, a revolutionary movement in the late 1890s to break free of the past and to establish something new, Fuller personified the new age with her performances heavily inspired by nature. The 1900 Paris Exposition, the height of the said movement, saw Fuller’s catapult into the Parisian art scene. Jean Cocteau, a French writer, called her “dancer who created the phantom of an era.”
Fuller could metamorphose into a butterfly or a snake, a flower or a flame. The sleeves of her long silks were sewn with long rods of bamboo. Her gracious movements and enthralling choreography changed contemporary dance style. Meticulously planned and perfectly executed performances brought a wave of newfound interest in this techno-art display over Europe and North America. As a result, she inspired generations of new artists, most notably the well-renowned American dancer Isadora Duncan.
Donate to Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation here
Why Taylor Swift fans should read about them
Much like Swift herself, Fuller was an advocate for artists’ rights in owning their work. Having her creative ideas stolen from her, Fuller moved to Paris and continued her quest for love and recognition. Taylor Swift has had her life’s work stolen by a couple of money-hungry men, too. Nonetheless, both women continued to strive despite the emotional toll such theft can take on one’s mind. And both women achieved their critical peaks as a response to the said trauma.
Fuller brought forth a new age in the artistic expression on stage, much like Swift made country music a bedroom staple in far-reaching lands from home. They created distinctive styles in their respective areas of expertise— the kind that makes the audience instantly aware of the source of inspiration. Swift made autobiographical songwriting a pop phenomenon, while Fuller exceeded traditional barriers of stage choreography by infusing fashion and lighting with grace and technology.
Read about Taylor Swift’s artistic lyricism on her album RED here
Swift admires her muse who lived a hundred years before her time, much more than a simple message could convey. Fuller’s impact on Swift cannot be understated, as one can feel that she connects with her on an emotional level. At the reputation Stadium Tour 2018, Swift dedicated the performance of her song Dress to Fuller each night, with a message that read:
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