Theophile Gautier (1811-1872), whose father was a minor government functionary, was born in southwestern France, but when he was three his family moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life. The young Gautier wanted to make his name as a painter until, at eighteen, he met Victor Hugo and decided to become a writer. Instead; within a year he had published his first collection of poetry. Gautier also formed an early and deep attachment to the brilliant but troubled poet Gerard de Nerval, and the two of them became central to the the Jeune-France movement, celebrated for its Bohemian dandyism and aesthetic provocations. (Gautier became especially notorious for the red vest he wore to the opening of Hugo's play Hernani.) In 1836 Gautier published the novel Mademoiselle de Maupin, a succes de scandale that is the source of the phrase "art for art's sake," and later that year, he was hired as a critic for the daily paper La Presse, in which capacity he was to champion the work of Baudelaire, Berlioz, Delacroix, Heine and the Goncourt brothers. Gautier himself continued to publish poetry, short stories, literary criticism, plays, and ballets, including the scenario for the ballet Giselle and the unfinished History of Romanticism, which he was working on at the time of his death. Richard Holmes is the author of Shelley: The Pursuit (published by NYRB Classics), which won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1974; Coleridge: Early Visions, winner of the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year award; Dr Johnson & Mr Savage, which won the 1993 James Tait Black Prize; and Coleridge: Darker Reflections, which won the 1990 Duff Cooper Prize and Heinemann Award. His other works include Footsteps (1985) and Sidetracks (2000). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1992. He is also a professor of biographical studies at the University of East Anglia. He lives in London and Norwich with the novelist Rose Tremain.
"Gautier was a leading writer of the Romantic movement and forms a bridge between the supernatural fiction of Goethe and E.T.A. Hoffmann and the pivotal pulp magazine Weird Tales."-Cynthia Ward "Th'ophile Gautier was one of the most important writers of fantastic tales in France during the Romantic period."-The Modern Language Journal "It is in Th'ophile Gautier that we first seem to find an authentic French sense of the unreal world, and here there appears a spectral mystery which, though not continuously used, is recognizable at once as something alike genuine and profound." -H. P. Lovecraft Gautier writes ..".stories of remarkable artistry, rich in irony and nostalgia, in which the subtle play of passion with terror is expressed in a precise, elegant prose style." --The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror & the Supernatural