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 Amelie Louise Rives Chanler Troubetzkoy  (1863 - 1945)

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Lived/Active: New York/Virginia / England      Known for: writing, portrait and landscape painter

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Biography from Virginia Historical Society:
Amelie Rives (Amelie Louise Rives Chanler Troubetzkoy, 1863–1945), a descendant of Dr. Thomas Walker (1715–1794) and member of the prominent Rives family of Albemarle County, Virginia, was a noted author and celebrity, and a princess as well.  Her notoriety as an author was partly because of her strong female characters and the erotic nature of some of her work, which was considered scandalous for the period.  She published a number of novels, poems, and plays during her career, but she was best know for her novel The Quick or the Dead?

Rives became a fixture in the society and gossip columns of the day not only for her scintillating writing but also because of the scandalous nature of her first marriage.  John Armstrong Chanler (1862–1935) was a member of the socially prominent and wealthy Astor family.  He and Amélie married in 1888, against the wishes of his family.  They had a tumultuous relationship that ended in divorce in 1895.  Amelie initiated the split and moved to South Dakota where a divorce was easier to obtain.

While at a party in London in 1894, Oscar Wilde introduced Amelie to Pierre Troubetzkoy (1864–1936), an Italian-born Russian prince and portrait painter.  They married in 1896 at Amelie’s family home in Albemarle County, Castle Hill.  The couple lived in New York for a time and spent their latter years in Virginia.  Amelie was devastated when Pierre died suddenly in 1936, and she retreated from society until her death in 1945.

To learn more about the exciting life of Amélie Rives, visit the Virginia Historical Society. The VHS has numerous resources about Rives, including a copy of Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age by Donna M. Lucey and the Rives family papers (see Mss1 R5247a, b, c).  A bust of Amélie by her brother-in-law Paul Troubetzkoy (1866–1938) is on display at the society.

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