Adrienne Monnier

Adrienne Monnier (26 April 1892 – 19 June 1955) was a French bookseller, writer, and publisher, and an influential figure in the modernist writing scene in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s.

Formative years

Monnier was born in Paris on 26 April 1892. [1] Her father, Clovis Monnier (1859–1944), was a postal worker (postier ambulant), sorting mail in transit on night trains. [2] [1] Her mother, Philiberte (née Sollier, 1873–1944), was "open-minded" with an interest in literature and the arts. [2] [1] Adrienne's younger sister, Marie (1894–1976), would become known as a skillful embroiderer and illustrator. [3] [1] Their mother encouraged the sisters to read widely from an early age and frequently took them to the theatre, opera, and ballet. [1]

In 1909, aged 17, Monnier graduated from high school, with a teaching qualification (brevet supérieur). [4] Within months, in September, she moved to London, officially to improve her English but in reality to be close to her classmate, Suzanne Bonnierre, with whom she was "very much in love". [4] [5] Monnier spent three months working as an au pair, before finding a job for six months teaching French in Eastbourne. [4] She later wrote about her English experiences in Souvenirs de Londres ("Memories of London").

Back in France, Monnier taught briefly at a private school, before enrolling on a shorthand and typing course. [4] Thus equipped, in 1912, she found work as a secretary at the Université des Annales, a Right Bank publishing house specialising in mainstream literary and cultural works. Although Monnier enjoyed the work, she had little in common with the writers and journalists with whom she came into contact, preferring the bohemian Left Bank and the avant-garde literary world that it represented. [4]

In November 1913, Monnier's father, Clovis, was seriously injured in a train crash while at work; he was left with a lifelong limp. [6] When the compensation came through, he gave all of it – 10,000 Francs – to Monnier, to help her set up in bookselling. [6]