Charles - Louis Philippe

Life Dates:
1874 – 1909
Artist Biography:
Son of a village clogmaker, Charles-Louis Philippe rose from his modest background first to Secondary education via a grant, then to the world of letters. But he remained attached to the class of his birth. He wrote to the bourgeois writer and politician Maurice Barrès : « My grand-mother was a beggar, my father, who was a proud child, begged before he was old enough to work for his bread. I belong to a generation which has not yet passed through the world of books. (...) I must remind you that there are in me more imperative truths than those you call ‘French truths’. You separate nationalities, that’s how you differentiate the world, but I separate by class. (...) We have been walled up like the poor, and sometimes when Life came knocking, it was carrying a big stick. Our only resource was to love each other. That’s why my writing is always more tender than my head tells me to write. I think I am in France the first person from a race of the poor to enter the world of literature. » Philippe passed the Baccalaureate in science in 1891, but failed in his attempts to enter the specialist colleges in Paris (École polytechnique, École centrale). He eventually obtained a modest office job in the administration of Paris, which allowed him to settle in the capital and pursue his vocation as a writer. Among his literary friends and admirers would be Paul Claudel, Léon-Paul Fargue, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Francis Jammes, Valery Larbaud