On 22 December 1864, Sarah Bernhardt gave birth to Maurice, her only child. She named him after her maternal grandfather Moritz Bernardt (the original spelling), although it is entirely possible that she never once met that unreliable vagabond.
Maurice’s father was generally assumed to be Belgian nobleman Charles Joseph Eugène Henri Georges Lamoral, Prince de Ligne, but Sarah refused to be drawn on this and joined in with humorous speculation as to her son’s paternity.
She seemed refreshingly unabashed by her status as a single mother; she gave Maurice her last name and never attempted to conceal his relationship to her, although many women of her time bowed to societal pressure and concealed their children from disapproving eyes.
For more on Sarah and her son Maurice, read any of the following:
Elaine Aston. Sarah Bernhardt: A French Actress on the English Stage.Oxford: 1989
Ruth Brandon. Being Divine: A Biography of Sarah Bernhardt. London: 1991
Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale. The Divine Sarah: A Life of Sarah Bernhardt. New York: 1991
Or Wilde’s Women.