Renée Vivien: Her Life in Paris

Renée Vivien was a British-born poet who lived in Paris, France, for most of her adult life from 1899 until her death in 1909.

Renée Vivien: Her Life in Paris

Paris, Île-de-France 75008, France

Created By: Mashka Sutton

Tour Information

Renée Vivien was a British-born poet who lived in Paris, France, for most of her adult life from 1899 until her death in 1909. She is well-known for her translations of Sappho's poetry from Greek to French and for her own poetry, which is heavily influenced by Sappho's works. She is an important literary figure in queer history, as she explored explicitly lesbian themes at a time when lesbianism was still considered a mental illness, even if it was more accepted in Paris than in her birthplace, London. She is also worth remembering for her gender-bending presentations, often dressing in more masculine manners for photo shoots and dressing up as a "prince" when posing for her lovers. Her photographs, in addition to her poetry, provide important early moments in the historical record of queerness. These clear depictions of queerness appealed to lesbian feminists in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, who translated and published her work in an attempt to create a more complete account of lesbian history. Vivien's work was started due to and influenced by her woman lovers. The losses of these personal attachments in addition to her disappointment with how her works of poetry were received led to her increasing self-isolation and self-destructive behavior, culminating in her early death at thirty-two.

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Renée Vivien was a British-born poet that lived most of her life in Paris, France. Born Pauline Tarn, she changed her name once she permanently relocated to Paris, believing that this new beginning was the equivalent of a rebirth. She wrot... Read more
Violet Shillito was also an expatriate, like Renée Vivien and the other wealthy lesbians she associated with. Shillito was neighbors with Natalie Barney, one of Renée Vivien's lovers, and both of their families settled in Paris around... Read more
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, also known as Colette, is well-remembered for her writings, specifically those about the French lesbian literary salons in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Colette lived next to Vivien at 44 Rue Paul Valéry... Read more
Natalie Clifford Barney was Renée Vivien's childhood friend and was introduced to her through mutual friends at a theatre box in Paris. They connected over their shared intellectual passions. One of their main activities together was l... Read more
Alphonse Lemerre was a well-known publisher for many of the Parisian writers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was one of the only publishers located in Paris during Vivien's life, and was known for his ambivalent personality and ... Read more
Alphonse Lemerre was Vivien's publisher in Paris from the turn of the 20th century until 1908. In addition to the library that he owned with Vivien's works, he also owned a bookshop where he published most of her works. Here at 25 Rue des ... Read more
Edward Sansot was another well-known publisher in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. He lived at 53 Rue Saint-André des Arts. From 1908 onward, Sansot published Vivien's works. At this point, Vivien's poetry shifts from optimisticall... Read more
Born Pauline Tarn in London in 1877, Renée Vivien was born to an English father and an American mother. Vivien inherited her father's fortune at the age of nine, allowing her to permanently move to Paris at twenty-one when she was able to... Read more
This location is a small area with benches that commemorates Renée Vivien's life, but doesn't appear to mention any details about her work or personal life. It is easy to miss, in large contrast to the space Renée Vivien occupies in lesbi... Read more


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