Marguerite Steinheil was born Marguerite Jeanne Japy in Beaucourt, France to a wealthy industrialist family. In 1890, she married Adolphe Steinheil, a prominent painter much older than she. At their home in Paris, she hosted a salon frequented by leading political, artistic, and literary figures of the day, including Charles Gounod, Ferdinand de Lesseps, René Lalique, Jules Massenet, and Émile Zola. In 1897, she met the President of France, Félix Faure, and became his lover. She was alone with him in the Élysée Palace when he died suddenly, causing a scandal in French society. Marguerite went on to become the lover of many important and powerful men. In 1908, her husband and her stepmother were found dead of suffocation in her house, and Marguerite was found gagged and tied to a bed. She initially claimed that intruders had broken in; she later tried to implicate a servant in the crime, but he was able to establish an alibi. Marguerite was then arrested for the murders and, following a sensational trial, acquitted. After these events, she went to live in London, where she was known as Madame de Serignac, and wrote My Memoirs (1912). In 1917, she married Robert Brooke Campbell Scarlett, 6th Baron Abinger.