Catherine was born into a prosperous professional family in Paris where her father was a
respected surgeon and gynaecologist. She was the eldest child with two brothers, attended a
girl's school but was then tutored at home. Her father was a rather distant figure who
neglected his daughter's education but she was an intelligent being who, nourished by the
company of many leading literary figures of the time, turned to self-education in the
arts. She married Edouard Bourdet in 1900 to whom she bore a son but the marriage was
of short duration.
Her poems had a philosophical element to their main subject of love and rejection but, despite
her auto didacticism, she was a slow writer and rather too self-critical to write more than
a few works. In 1912, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis but, to the acclaim of the
literary world, published a novel, Agnes, in 1927 and her poem, Ave, in 1929, before she
died of the disease and drug therapy. Several other poems and translations were published
after her death.
She was acquainted with many major literary figures and had an intense love affair with Paul
Valery which came to nothing when, after confessing to his wife, she was ostracised by the
society she had enjoyed all her life.