Title: Jean Cocteau fonds. -- 1956-1958. -- 1 cm of textual material; 2 drawings: 28 cm x 21 cm

Biographical Sketch: Jean Cocteau was born on July 5, 1889 at Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris, into a wealthy bourgeois family. His parents were Georges Cocteau and the former Eugenie Lecomte. Cocteau grew up in Paris and always considered himself Parisian by speech, education, ideas, and habits. At the age of 19, he published his first volume of poems, La Lampe d'Aladin ("Aladdin's Lamp," 1909).

During World War I, Cocteau served as an ambulance driver on the Belgian front. The landscape he observed there was later used in his novel Thomas l'imposteur ("Thomas the Imposter") in 1923. Shortly after the war, the writer, Max Jacob, introduced Cocteau to the future poet and novelist fifteen-year-old Raymond Radiguet. The two shared ideas, encouragement, and enthusiasm for each others work. However, in 1923 Cocteau lost Radiguet from a typhoid fever at the age of twenty-one. As a result, Cocteau turned to drugs and eventually was institutionalized.

After Cocteau was released, he embarked on a new phase, producing such works as L'Ange Heurtebise ("The Angel Heurtebise," 1925), Orphee ("Orpheus," 1927), Les Enfants terribles ("Children of the Game," 1929), and Opium (1930). Cocteau had enlarged the scope of his work by the creation of his first film, Le Sang d'un poete ("The Blood of a Poet," 1931). In the 1940s, Cocteau returned to filmmaking, first as a screenwriter and then also as a director. As the 1950s approached, Cocteau took an interest in visual art. He decorated the Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and began a series of important graphic works: frescoes on the City Hall in Menton, the Chapel of Saint-Pierre in Villefranche-sur-Mer, and the Church of Saint-Blaise-des-Simples in Milly-la-Foret. His adopted son, Edouard Dermit, who also appears in his later films, continued the decoration of a chapel at Frejus, a work Cocteau had not completed at his death. On October 11, 1963, Jean Cocteau died at the age of 74.

Source: Britannica (1997).

Scope and Content: This fonds consists of a letter dated June 5, 1956 to Lord Beaverbrook from Jean Cocteau regarding dinner arrangements with Beaverbrook. It also includes a 27 page typescript of a speech delivered by Cocteau at Oxford, June 14, 1956, on the occasion of Cocteau receiving an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. There are also two original drawings, one in pencil, entitled "Oxford 1956" and the other with crayon of "New Year's 1958."


Title: Title is based on name of creator.

Access: Unrestricted.

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Last Update: 2003/04/24