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Samuel Beckett

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The Irish Nobel-prize-winning writer-poet Samuel Beckett wrote most of his work in French, and translated it himself into English.

From the age of 20 he travelled and lived in Europe. In the pre-war year of 1937 he travelled extensively in Germany and then moved to Paris. Beckett was in the French resistance in Paris from 1939 to 1942, when he moved to Roussillon in the Provence of Vichy France.

Beckett in Paris 1926, 1928-1932

1926: Samuel Beckett's first trip to France, visiting the chateaux of the Loire Valley.

Oct 1928 - Sept 1930: In22 October 1928: Beckett, aged 22, arrived in Paris for a job as a lecteur at the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) on Rue d'Ulm in the 6th arrondissement. He was lodged in a room on the first floor overlooking the rue d'Ulm, looking out over "the bare tree, dripping; then, behind, smoke from the janitor's chimney-pot, rising stiff like a pine of ashes; then, beyond, beyond the world, pouring a little light up the gully of the street that westers to the Luxembourg..." [Dream of Fair to Middling Women].

During his time at the ENS, Beckett drank heavily, and mostly at the Cochon de Lait on in the 6th arrondissement (the café is no longer there). Also during this time, Beckett was introduced to James Joyce, and became a frequent visitor to Joyce's flat at Square Robiac. In May 1930 Beckett was blamed for upsetting Joyce's schizophrenic daughter, Lucia, and the visits were off.

Beckett left Paris in September 1930.

March and July 1931: Short visits to Paris. In July 1931 Samuel Beckett stayed at the Hôtel Corneille (now gone) on the Rue de Corneille, following in the footsteps of James Joyce , J. M. Synge and W. B. Yeats.

End-Jan - July 12, 1932: Beckett stayed first around the corner from Rue de Corneille at the top of the Trianon Palace Hotel at 1bis-3, Rue de Vaugirard.

In May 1932 the French had one of their periodic campaigns to throw out foreigners without a residence permit, and Beckett was forced to leave the hotel. From then until his departure in July he stayed at the studio of artist Jean Lurçat.

Beckett in Paris 1937-1942

Beckett started out at 2, Rue de la Grande Chaumière (6th arrondissement), but only for a short time.

He moved across the street to the Hotel Libéria at 9, Rue de la Grande Chaumière. It was here that he was living when he was stabbed by the pimp along the Avenue Général Leclerc (then called Avenue d'Orléans) in the 14th arrondissement. James Joyce got Beckett into a private room at the Broussais hospital (14th arrondissement). During his recovery in hospital, Beckett received visits from Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumnesil, and she became Beckett's constant companion until death.

April 1938: Beckett moved from the Hotel Libéria to a studio at the top of 6, Rue des Favorites (15th arrondissement).

1939? As the German army advanced on Paris, Beckett and James Joyce went to Vichy () where they stayed at the Hotel Beaujoulais, until the hotel was requisitioned by the Vichy government. While Joyce went to Saint-Gérand-le-Puy, Beckett wandered via various temporary lodgings, including Toulouse, Cahors, and Arachon, where he stayed a few weeks at the Villa St-Georges, 135 bis Boulevard de la Plage.

Oct 1940: Beckett returned to Paris. He translated Resistance documents to be transmitted to London, and rejoined the Resistance Group Gloria SMH.

In August 1942 Beckett and Deschevaux-Dumnesil the Gestapo was cracking down on the resistance network for which they worked and they escaped Paris for Roussillon in the South of France. They would later return to the same studio in Paris.

... when they returned to their studio, which they found had miraculously escaped pillaging.

Beckett in Roussillon

Samual Beckett's house in Roussillon Oct 1942 - Jan 1945: Beckett, along with his companion Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil, arrived in Roussillon. Beckett found employment as a farm worker for M. Bonnelly and for M. Aude. He continued his writing in the evenings, and completed his second Novel, Watt.

Having fled Paris because of his activities in the Resistance, Beckett continued helping in the south by storing armaments in the back yard of his Roussillon home. He also helped the Maquis sabotage the German army in the Vaucluse mountains.

The association Maison samuel Beckett tried in 1997 to obtain Beckett's house (on a one-hectare property at the entrance to Roussillon) and open it to the public as a Beckett-oriented culturial center. The association's effort was unsuccessful, and the house remains the private property (not open to visitors) of the previous owners.
La Maison Samuel Beckett, Chemin de la Bergère, 84220 Roussillon-en-Provence (fax: 0490 057 334; e-mail

In Beckett's Waiting for Godot, the character Vladimir says to Estragon [paraphrasing], We were together in the Vaucluse. We did the vendenge for the Bonnelley's at Roussillon.

Beckett in Saint Lô

1946: Beckett, spent several months in Saint Lô (Manche, Normandy) as an interpreter for the Irish Red Cross in a hospital.

Beckett in Ussy-sur-Marne

1953-1960: Beckett bought a plot of land and built a small house by the hamlet of Molien, in the commune of Ussy-sur-Marne (Seine-et-Marne), 60 km northeast of Paris. He did his shopping in the town of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, 4 km to the east. Beckett was far enough from Paris for the isolation he needed, but close enough to commute in by train when necessary for business meetings.

His house had a great view across the Marne valley to the south, but to block the view in of passers by he had a tall, cinder-block wall built completely around his property.

Beckett in Paris 1960-1989

October 1960: Beckett and Deschevaux-Dumnesil moved from Ussy-sur-Marne back to Paris, into a 7th-floor apartment 38, Boulevard Saint-Jacques (14th arrondissement). They both had separate bedrooms and separate entrances.

1988: Beckett was admitted to the Tiers Temps nursing home at 26, rue Rémy-Dumoncel (14th arrondissement).

22 Dec 1989: Samuel Beckett died, at the Tiers Temps nursing home. He is buried in Paris' Montparnasse Cemetery, at section 12, the cemetery's Ave Transversale, between Ave de l'Est and Allée Chauveau Lagarde [Montparnasse Cemetery Map Beckett].


    • Wikipedia
    • beckett.htm - Details and addresses in Paris
    • - biography dates, Samuel Beckett House

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