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A Short History of Gautier-Languereau
and La Semaine de Suzette
published in the 2010 October issue of Journal of Belles
edited by Anne Baxter VI, n°5, pp 19-35.
A shorter version appears as well in A. Levi, Storia della
Biblioteca dei Miei Ragazzi,
Bibliografia e Informazione, 2012, pp. 400-407
NO REPRODUCTION RIGHTS
a few months before his death in 1938
Henri Eugène Gautier, founder of the publishing
house H. Gautier, later to become Gautier et Languereau Editeurs,
was born in Paris in the VII arrondissement, on October 17th,
1855, the youngest son of Marius Léonard Gautier and
Claire Amélie Bourdon.
The Gautiers were originally from Marseille, where Henri's
paternal grandfather, Symphorien Marie, (b.1782) had been
Marius Léonard, (b. Marseille 1812-d. 1867) was a manufacturer
of iron tools who owned a hardware shop (quincalleirie)
in rue du Temple, 20. In 1839 he married Claire Amélie,
issued from a family of Parisian tradesmen. Besides Henri
they had four more children:
Amélie Virginie: (1840-1930)
Léon Gustave Adolphe: 1842-1916, Négociant
quincaillier, with his brother Paul Emile,
he inherited his father's business in rue du Temple
, 20 (recorded at this adress in 1889 and again in
1908). His daughter Suzanne married Alfred Tolmer
Paul Émile Louis: b. 1844-d. 1910. Négociant,
manufacturier rue du Temple, 20 in 1884 and
avenue Victoria in 1889. He attended l'École
Nationale Supérieure du Génie Maritime
and became a civil engineer. He is listed (in rue
du Temple) in the 1884-85 issue of Annuaire de la
Société Amicale du Génie Maritime,
whose members were former pupils of the school and
in Mémoires de la Société des
Ingénieurs Civils de France, 1875
Charles-Albert: b. Paris (VII) 20 May 1846-d.11
April 1915. He became a well known architect. Graduate
Ecole Centrale d'Architecture in 1869. and École
des Beaux-Arts (1869-1877), inspector of Bâtiments
Civils et des Palais Nationaux, Paris, Architecte
of the Greenhouses of Paris, renown for his innovative
designs of glass & ironworought domes. Officier
Légion d'Honneur. Tout-Paris, 1900: adresses
in Paris at rue Cambon & 37 rue de Lille.
1861 Claire Amélie married Jean Languereau (1831-1903)
a bronze manufacturer (fabricant de bronzes). They
had three children: Amélie Pauline (b.. 1862), Eugénie
Jeanne Marie (b..1864) and Jules Léon Maurice (the
future Caumery) born in Paris (10e), 66, Boulevard de Strasbourg
on January 8th, 1867. Witnesses were the two grandparents
Marius Gautier and Jacques Languereau.
The Languereaus were a wealthy family of tradesmen/rentiers:
Maurice's grandfather, Jacques, who in 1840 had been a pasta
dealer (marchand des pâtes à potage),
was living as a rentier by the time of his death in
1888. He left an estate worth 72,520 francs, (short of 10M
pounds at today's value) which included properties in rue
de la Roquette n°44, in passage Louis Philippe, in rue
de Lappe n°21, in passage Choisel n° 12, and possibly
also in Maisons-Laffite.
Maurice Languereau's sisters were married as it befitted their
social status: Amélie Pauline to Pierre Laville, a
rich Parisian tradesman from Rue de Rivoli, Eugénie
Jeanne Marie to Emmanuel Parmegiani who eventually became
Head of Cabinet at the Ministry of War and Officier de la
At the end of his secondary studies, two weeks after his 18th
birthday Henri Gautier joined the Army under the "engagement
conditionnel" scheme, destined to form the officers,
which allowed "les bacheliers" young men who had
gained the baccalaureat and were able to pay 1500francs for
their upkeep in the Army, to do only one year military service
instead of the obligatory five. (Marcel Proust will avail
himself of the same prerogative a few years later.
In 1875 he was discharged (passé dans la disponibilité)
and then in 1879 he was moved to the Reserve de l'Armée
active. Having attended over the following years the mandatory
two weeks recalls for military exercises, by 1907 he had reached
the grade of Chef de Bataillon de l'Armée Territoriale
d'Infanterie dans la 9me Région. Until the age of fifty
he could be mobilized, in case of war.
soon as he left the Army in 1875, Henri Gautier (1) went into
business and became a publisher with modest beginnings: he
published music sheets.
Tentation, scène dramatique avec solos
et choeurs. Poésie de M. Paul Vrignault., 1875
in-8 ° à 2 col., 4 p.
Le bal des fleurs, quadrille par Eugène
Besançon, Impr. Fouquet, 3 p., couv. orn.,
35 cm Dédicace: "à mademoiselle
Emilie Bonnemye" . La couv. porte "Oeuvres
musicales". Gravé par Baudon, 1878 d'après
le cachet de dépôt légal.
Les roses, piano par Eugène Besançon
[Paris] H. Gautier, Impr. Fouquet, Dédicace:
"à monsieur Georges Laruaz". La couv.
porte "Oeuvres musicales". Gravé
par Baudon, 1878 d'après le cachet de dépôt
Glissade polka pour piano, op. 48 par
Eugène Besançon Paris, H. Gautier, Impr.
Fouquet, 3 p.,couv. ill.,35 cm, Gravé par Mlles
Field, 1879 d'après le cachet de dépôt
1880 he is already into books, printing Le Roman bourgeois
avec introduction littéraire et biographique par Charles
Simond, Paris: H. Gautier, (1880). by Antoine Furetière
an author who lived in the XVII Century.
Two years later Gautier becomes Blériot partner.
In 1882, the Parisian Librairie Blériot Frères
(Charles Félix et Louis). was one of the leading French
It existed already in 1859 as "Librairie de Charles Blériot",
at 11, rue Rousselet, owned by Charles Blériot (b.1838)
who was later joined by his older brother Louis.
In 1860 Charles Blériot bought the bookseller licence
(brevet de libraire) of Firmin Alphonse Pringuet (b.5 Feb
1820-d.3 Apr. 1905) (2) libraire-commissionaire at
25, rue Bonaparte with a full-fledged catalogue of religious
and historical literature (e.g.: Preuves de la Religion
présentées à la jeunesse, suivi de l'Instruction
de E. Costa sur le dogme de l'Immaculée Conception,
Pringuet, Paris 1855) which included La Revue de l'Art
Chrétien, founded 1856.
from the cover of La Revue de l'Art Chrétien, 1860
1861 he moved from 25, rue Bonaparte (round the corner from
rue Jacob) to 55, Quai des Grands Augustins. Blériot
used outside printers like, for instance, Imprimerie Mme V.ve
Belin, Saint Cloud or, in 1861, Rousseau-Leroy, 26, rue Saint-Maurice,
On the 23rd Feb. 1882 a full page obituary signed by Raoul
de Navéry announced in the front page of L'Ouvrier
the sudden death, at the age of 46, of Louis Blériot
(3). Exactly four weeks later, on the 25th March 1882, Librairie
Blériot Frères became Librairie de Blériot
et Gautier. No explanation as to why or how Gautier had become
a partner was given.
An unconfirmed source states that, after his military service,
Henri Gautier started at Blériot as an apprentice,
working his way up to the top, finding himself in the right
place at the right time, with suitable means and experience,
to become Charles Félix's partner.
Whichever way Gautier started his successful career - on his
own or as an apprentice - it is an undisputed fact that after
becoming Maison Blériot's partner in 1882, three years
later, in July 1885, aged thirty, he became its sole proprietor
(Charles Blériot, who died in 1898, stills appears
as Directeur Gérant). Gautier also bought the catalogue
of the bookseller/editor Dillet (Constant René), 15
rue de Sèvres (who had been one of Raoul de Navéry
and Zénaide Fleuriot's publishers). (4)
The whole operation may have been financed with the help of
his brothers and/or brother-in-law Jean Languereau. Surely
no coincidence, the same year (1885), his very young nephew,
Jules Léon Maurice Languereau, the son of his sister
Claire Amélie, barely eighteen, joined the firm.
The daily La Patrie thus referred to Gautier in July 1885:
"Le nouveau propriétaire de l'ancienne maison
Blériot, M. Henri Gautier, un jeune, intelligent et
The new publishing house traded under various names: Blériot
et Gautier (1882), Henri Gautier (1887-1900), Librairie Henri
Gautier (1903), Librairie Blériot, Henri Gautier Successeur
(used as late as 1922).
Their premises remained at 55, Quai des Grands-Augustins,
in a district of Paris where printing and publishing firms
existed since the XIII century. An adress with literary and
artistic connections, it was where "au dernier étage
du 55, quai des Grands-Augustins, Colette et Willy, fraîchement
mariés, passent quelques semaines en mai-juin 1893"
Picasso will have his studio at no7 during WWII.
he catalogue Gautier acquired from Blériot contained
over one thousand titles of religious and historical works,
adventure and melodramatic novels with titles such as Les
Terreurs de Lady Suzanne by Claire de Chandeneux (Emma Bailly),
authors like Raoul de Navéry, Zenaide Fleuriot, Marie
Marechal, Maryan and two magazines:
(founded 1st May 1861 - closed 24 April 1920) Journal hebdomadaire
illustré, paraissant tous les samedis, Biographies,
Causeries, Littérature, Romans et nouvelles, Sciences,
etc., Paris, au bureau du Journal L'Ouvrier, 55 Quai des Grands
- Augustins. In 1920, after 59 years, because of the political/social
overtones associated with the name it was renamed Fils
Les Veillées des Chaumières (September
1860 - to date) Journal illustré paraissant le Mercredi
et le Samedi , a literary revue aimed at a young modern female
readership, the big sisters of Suzettes, gently introducing
in their stories the subject of love. The first number appeared
on 1st September 1860 and cost five cents; published initially
on Saturday and then twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday,
in 1884 the circulation reached 75,000 copies. [The name is
now owned by Emap Femme; still published, it reached issue
2630 in February 2005]. Some of the contributors were or became
famous French writers: René Bazin, Henry Bordeaux,
Paul Bourget, Gérard de Nérval, Sully Prud'homme.
started immediately to re-organize Blériot catalogue
and launch his own collections:
the 2nd of February 1905, heralded by a massive campaign in
Les Veillées and L'Ouvrier, Gautier issued
the first number of La Semaine de Suzette a magazine specifically
aimed at girls aged 8-14, daughters of the professional bourgeoisie,
being educated at home or in private religious establishments.
Blériot (es. Marinette by Marie
Alderic) which then became
Collection Blériot - Bibliothèque
Nouvelle Bibliothèque Populaire (1887)
a series of cheap paper-backs sold at ten centimes,
dedicated to French and foreign classics: Milton,
Racine, Schiller. (n°1, was Lettres De Louis
XVI , n°2, Contes fantastiques de
E.TA. Hoffmann n°3, Dante, La Divine Comédie).
This collection in competition with the very cheap
Bibliothèque Nationale was very well received
at home and abroad "Of all the cheap "libraries,"
quite the cheapest is the Nouvelle Bibliotheque
Populaire, just started in France" (The
Nation, 1887) "La Nouvelle bibliothèque
populaire à dix centimes, que vient de créer
l'éditeur Henri Gautier, est une publication
qui mérite d'être signalée et
encouragée" (Revue politique et littéraire:
revue bleue, 1887)
Une Nouvelle bibliothèque populaire,
la bibliothèque Henri Gautier, se publie
à Paris au prix de 10 centimes le cahier
de 32 pages - Que peut-on bien avoir pour 10 centimes?
- Peu de chose mais souvent un petit chef-d'oeuvre"
(La Revue de Belgique, 1888)
"Inexpensive as is this Biliothèque
Nationale it has now a new rival - the Nouvelle
Bibliotheque Populaire - in which the single numbers
are sold for two cents each" (Cheap Books
and good books, The American Copyright League,
1888) "J'avoue que j'ai beaucoup lu, mais je
n'avais pas encore vu pareil pour dix centimes"
(Vallette in Le Mercure de France, 1907).
Bibliothèque de Souvenirs et Récits
Militaires (1893) Collection Récits des
grands jours de l'histoire.
Bibliothèque de voyages, de chasses et
Collection Bibliothèque des Petites Sources
Bibliothèque scientifique des écoles
et des familles (it includes La Photographie:
Development et Tirage par Louis et Auguste Lumière)
Bibliothèque de Ma Fille (1897)
Collection Choisie (the old Dillet stock
rebound under a Gautier-Languereau cover (after
Collection Familia (1922-1947) 120 titles.
The first volume Lequel? by Mathilde Aigueperse
In a Country where religion and education will be soon officially
separated by a Bill of Law to be passed on the 9th of December
1905, in the wake of the Congregations' expulsion from teaching,
in the full swing of La Belle Epoque, Henri Gautier has a
reassuring message for parents: "La Semaine de Suzette
sera le complément récréatif d'une éducation
religieuse et intelligente". However it can be safely
stated that the immediate success of Suzette was due to his
nephew Maurice who was simply an advertising, marketing, and
merchandising genius and a shrewd businessman, qualities obviously
inherited from his ancestors.
the name Suzette was chosen, official history doesn't say
Suzette could be a generic name for "little girl",
the fashionable diminutive "ette" of Suzanne, a
girl name popular in France at the beginning of the century.
Or maybe the title was inspired by a schoolbook by Marie Malezieux
Halt, L'Enfance de Suzette, livre de lecture courante a
l'usage des jeunes filles, Paris, P. Delaplane, 1892 or
possibly by a series of postcards published around 1900 called
La Journée de Suzette in circulation as long as 1910,
depicting the daily activities of a little girl from the moment
she wakes up to her bedtime prayers.
There was also the classic novellette La dot de Suzette
by Joseph Fievée, published in 1798, still in print
in 1992. And there was La Semaine des Familles (1858-1896)
founded by Alfred Nettement, managed for many years by Zenaide
Fleuriot. And there had been La Semaine des Enfants
by Hachette (1857-1876).
Whoever named the paper after a girl, and for whatever reason,
it was a masterstroke soon to be followed by other publishers.
Magazines or rather periodical instalments of books for (rich)
children had been published in France since the XVIII century:
L'Ami des Enfans par M. Arnaud Berquin ( Paris 1782
and London 1783), Le Portefeuille des enfans (1784-1800),
Le courrier des enfans (1796-1799).
In the XIX century beside general magazines pour enfants ,
aimed indiscriminately at boysand girls i.e. Le Journal
des jeunes personnes (Julie Gouraud, 1832) La Semaine
des Enfants (Hachette, 1857-1876) there were also some
specifically destined to fillettes, jeunes filles and demoiselles
such as L'Abeille des demoiselles (1826-28), L'Album
des demoiselles (1832), Le journal des demoiselles
[sold on subscription it will last from 1833 to 1922], Magasin
des demoiselles (1844-1881), La Jeune fille (1888-1898)
and many more.
Some were illustrated with strips like Le Jeudi de la Jeunesse
(Tallandier 1903-1914), others did not have many illustrations
and were quite expensive, i.e. Mon Journal and Le
Petit Français illustré (just to name two).
Suzette was personal, it adressed itself directly to an existing
potential reader, who could identify with and respond to it.
Incidentally the popularity of the name Suzette in its own
right peaked in France in 1932.
Suzette's editorial staff consisted of a team of female writers,
headed by the Editor-in-chief Jacqueline Rivière, Mme
Alexandre Bernhardt, née Jeanne Spallarossa, known
as Mme Bernard de la Roche, an established editor at Les
Veillées des Chaumières and L'Ouvrier
who, until her death in 1920, will run Suzette practically
single-handed, covering many features under different pseudonyms.
Contributors such as Agon de La Contrie, Roger Dombre, Pierre
Besbre and Jeanne de Coulomb came as well from Les Vieillées
and/or L'Ouvrier. They wrote on commission to a set
formula and over the years they often represented the heroines
reading La Semaine de Suzette, a subliminal in-house
advertising message suggesting that to identify with the book's
characters, a little girl had to read the magazine.
the launch of Suzette, one hundred thousand copies of the
first number were distributed free of charge. As an incentive
to prospective subscribers, Maurice offered a doll called
Bleuette. G&L marketing strategy returned more results
than expected. The subscription offer was an instant sell
out; Gautier who had placed an order for an estimated 20000
subscriptions with the manufacturer (Jumeau), soon had to
order another 60000 dolls. After the first two stocks run
out, Bleuette was put on sale.
A fore-mother of Barbie, Bleuette, was supplied with a continous
range of merchandising: clothes, accessories, furniture patterns
and ready-made trousseaux which were exhibited at Gautier-Languereau's
premises where Bluette's fashion shows were held regularly.
Catalogues with invitations to view the new season's models
were issued. As soon as a new pattern for Bleuette's elegant
wardrobe came out, little mummy started sewing.
At the end of the publishing year - which until 1926 fell
on the 2nd of February, the date of the first issue - for
those who had missed out, Suzette was sold bound in albums.
(For the numbering of La Semaine de Suzette see Trésors
de la bande dessinée, BDM: BERA, Michel, DENNI
Michel, MELLO, Philippe, Ed. de l'Amateur)
There were also concours, competitions in which readers could
take part by answering a number of questions spread over many
issues and by attaching to their reply a coupon from each
issue. There were rich prizes: results for the Grand Concours
du Bourreur de Crane which had been running since August
were announced in the 23rd December 1926 issue. The 1st prize
was a bycicle Fillette Touriste Peugeot, in black enamel
lined in gold, with brakes and accessories, a bag, mudguards,
and skirt net. For the record the winner was M.lle Marie-Louise
Paul (Isère). To keep the girls busy in summertime,
the yearly Suzette en Vacances offered, since 1906,
a structured program of activities and entertainments.
The illustrations were made by artists who at the time were
already famous and in great demand, though some having illustrated
"littérature galante"- as it was called then
- were somewhat beyond the pale for a Catholic magazine.
The result was a vibrant publication which even after a century
still exudes an exciting go-getting feeling. It gave its readers
a specific personality: once a Suzette forever a Suzette,
demonstrating and anticipating Miss Brodie's famous pedagogical
axiom "give me a girl at an impressionable age and she
is mine for life".
Nevertheless Suzette doesn't lack its share of negative
comments: bromidic, repetitive, the mouth piece of a nationalistic
conservative class, patronizingly racist, paying lip service
to new trends, a propagandist of the Catholic Church, etc...
These were certainly not the considerations of a little girl
anticipating the Thursday thrill of its arrival, nay of a
girl deprived of a television set. Par manque de Blue
Peter, the instructions on how to build from nothing a baquet
à fleurs pour égayer la table (Feb. 1938)
were as much exciting. Of course it is not a coincidence that
the demise of the magazine coincides with the advent of television.
To fill an empty space in the first issue of La Semaine
de Suzette (so the story goes) Languereau or, according
to others, Jacqueline Rivière, who is officially credited
with the first script, invented the character of the maid
Bécassine (6) which appeared as a strip. The accidental
illustrator happened to be Joseph Porphyre Pinchon (Amiens,
17 April 1871 - 20 June 1953). Painter by training and vocation,
he was working - out of necessity - as a magazine illustrator.
By 1910 he was the established artistic director and costumes
designer at the Opéra Garnier in Paris .
But the story is true: the last minute arrival of Bécassine
is actually documented.
Since 1904 G&L had started advertising the new issue (which
like all magazines was prepared months ahead) in Les Veillées
L'Ouvrier no 76, dated 21 Jan 1905 carries two columns
(pag 604 & 605) signed E. de Prémartin, outlining
in detail each feature of the soon-to-be-born Suzette. No
mention of Bécassine.
In L'Ouvrier, no 77, 25 Jan.1905 (one week to go),
a box lists the contents - still no mention of Bécassine
- whereas she is suddenly announced on the 28th Jan. 1905,
no 78, (Saturday, four days before the launch) under the heading
Les exploits de Bécassine (page gaie) illustrations
On popular demand Bécassine became a regular feature
and from 1905 to 1914, ninety-nine short stories were scripted
appearing in the centrefold pages. Becassine became even a
In fact Bécassine became - and remains to this day
- so popular that in November 1913 Gautier launched Bécassine's
own collection under the name Les Albums de Bécassine.
Though over the years Bécassine was scripted also by
other writers, Languereau continued to write until his death
some of her endless adventures under the pseudonym-anagram
Caumery Léon, which he used initially to hide the frivolous
activity of strip scriptwriter from his colleagues in the
publishing world. Twenty eight albums were produced in 45
years: " "Je ne pensais guère à doubler
d'un écrivain, l'éditeur que j'étais"
said Languereau in 1934 of his scriptwriting.
If Maurice Languereau, a well educated man, was not a writer,
he was most certainly a man who wrote: in fact he contributed
as a literary critic to his uncle weekly Revue de France
(published 1889-1893): i.e.: "Le marquis de Breuteuil",
20 Aug, 1892, "René Bazin: Sicile" - "Henri
Dabot: Lettre d'un écolier" 10 Dec 1892, &
"Henri Meilhac" April 1892).
Bécassine was also distributed under copyright in the
USA. The copyright was regularly re-newed, the latest available
record in the Sixties (18 Nov. 1960 and in 1967) in the names
of Mme Maurice Languereau, née Yvonne Gallien &
Mme Jean-Pierre Pinchon, née Suzanne Armande Wurtz.
Presently it belongs to Hachette-Gautier-Languereau.
Languerau had been exempted from military service for feeble
constitution (exempté pour faiblesse de constitution)
and assigned to the Services Auxiliaires. Therefore
at the outbreak of WWI he was put in charge of the administration
of a military hospital near Paris (it became the setting of
Bécassine pendant la guerre, 1916).
The Postman cometh ... postcard
1905, ill. R de La Nézière
Les petites Suzettes as well took part in the war effort,
together with Bécassine who was mobilisée
and went chez les Alliées and Bleuette who was
at the front-line donning the uniform of infirmière,
(n°2, 1915) and ambulancière de la Croix Rouge
(n°11, April, 1915). In 1915 the young readers were invited
to become marraines de guerre, (war-godmothers: more
than just a pen-pal), "adopting" and supporting
a soldier at the front as a personal friend, especially those
The war was covered in many Suzette's articles and stories.
For instance, in 1917, Jean et his sister Jeannette on their
way to school, stop every day at the tobacconist. A neighbour
reports them to their mother on suspicion of smoking (those
were the days when there was an educational community spirit).
Mother follows them and indeed catches them entering the shop.
But, before she has time to give them the good hiding she
thinks they deserve, she sees through the window Jean and
Jeannette deposit the cigarettes they have bought with quatre
sous - their snack money - into the "N'oubliez pas
les soldats" basket, containing offerings for the soldiers
at the front. Outside the shop, the patriotic children, "fort
surpris", find maman "qui les embrasse tendrement,
les larmes dans les yeux".
In February 1918, Henri made his nephew - who already had
power of attorney - a full partner. The partnership took the
name Gautier et Languereau Éditeurs. Henri Gautier
remained Directeur Gérant of the firm until
Towards the end of 1919 Gautier-Languereau launched the book
collection Bibliothèque de Suzette, editing
in book format the most popular feuillletons published in
Suzette. The collection became as successful as the magazine.
The volumes came in various formats. The internal illustrations
remained the same. The covers of the paperback version were
designed by the usual illustrators. In 1936 G&L contracted
out the illustration of the covers to Maison Tolmer. Its owner
Alfred, had married (ca 1905) Suzanne, Henri's niece, (daughter
of Gustave Adolphe Gautier).
They sold the translation rights to foreign publishers in
a number of Catholic countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal.
The Italian translations rights of over fifty titles were
sold in 1931 to Adriano Salani Editore for 600FF per volume.
Other titles were sold to Marietti.
In the Fifties nine Bibliothèque de Suzette
including P'tit Oiseau were adapted in Turkish published
anonymously by Dogan Kardes Yayinlari. P'tit Oiseau
was again published in Turkish in 2002 also in an adapted
version this time with the author's name.
G&L books were distributed abroad by La Maison du Livre
Français. For the Americas G&L signed an agreement
in 1946 with Editions B.-D. Simpson (Berthe Dulude Simpson
of Montréal) under which the sale of Suzettes published
in their joint names was "strictement limitée
au Canada, aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique et à l'Amérique
du Sud à l'exclusion de tous autres pays" (i.e.
Une petite fille tombée de la lune, Gautier
Languereau, Paris & B.-D. Simpson, Montreal, 1937 and
Il était un petit page, 1932 and La tutelle
de Cousine Linotte, 1931)
To promote the company and the French press industry, Maurice
travelled continuously taking part to conferences, symposiums.
(es. Rome 1928 Conferenza sui diritti di autore) and book
the year 1922 G&L attended the exhibitions held
in Florence (Fiera Internazionale del Libro 1922),
San Sebastian and Stockholm
Rio de Janeiro 1923 (Gold Medal)
Strasbourg 1924 (not competing)
Paris 1925, Exposition des Arts Décoratifs
(Silver medal for Bleuette)
Madrid 1927 (Grand Prix)
Barcelone 1929 (not competing)
Liège 1930 (Grand Prix)
Paris 1931, Exposition Coloniale: Palais du Livre,
Palais des Informations (Press), Section Métropolitaine
(Jouets) (received a Grand Prix in each section)
Lyon 1933, Exposition Internationale de la Poupée,
Paris 1937, Exposition Internationale "Arts et
Techniques dans la Vie moderne", (Gold Medal)
Reading through La Petite Poste it is evident from
the letters looking for pen-pals that Suzette was read all
over the world (and not just by the daughters of the expatriate
community) including the United States and Great Britain (not
so much Germany) but the magazine is unknown in English speaking
countries, though two of its readers were the British princesses
Elizabeth and her sister Margaret-Rose, which conjures up
an idle question: does the Queen still keeps her old Suzette's
catalogue was enormous but they became and remained famous
for Les Albums de Bécassine, the long Brigitte
series by Berthe Bernage, La Semaine de Suzette and
Bibliothèque de Suzette. The last two had various
spin-offs (Suzette en vacances, Suzette et le bon
ton, Le livre de Suzette, etc.). Three generations
of French women were profoundly influenced by Suzette's literature.
August 1926 Gautier-Languereau moved their offices to 18,
rue Jacob, a narrow medieval street in the Quartier Latin,
like Grands-Augustins an address equally full of literary
resonances, which had been the headquarters of Hetzel, near
to Firmin-Didot (no 24) and just next door to the American
writer-socialite-heiress Nathalie Clifford-Barney, whose famous
salon at no 20 was attended by French intellectuals and American
expatriates. People such as Jean Cocteau, Gertrude Stein,
Paul Claudel, Truman Capote, Colette and F. Scott Fitzgerald,
to name a few, must have passed in front of Gautier Languereau
quite regularly: was it during one of his visits to Barney
that Fitzgerald stopped at Gautier to buy, maybe for his daughter
Scottie, La petite marquise de Karabat (ed.1927) now
in the Fitzgerald Library at Princeton University? One likes
to think so.
Stendhal too had been a resident of 18, rue Jacob and it was
where the young Jules Verne arrived an autumn afternoon in
1862, introduced by a mutual friend, the writer Alfred de
Brehat, to submit to Hetzel the manuscript of his very first
book Cinq Semaines en ballon.
Pierre-Jules Hetzel et C.ie, (est. 1837), publishers
of Balzac, Sand, Verne and Hugo, can be considered the first
mass-production publisher of juvenile educational literature
with their Bibliothèque d'Education et de Récréation
and Magazine illustré d'Education et de Récréation
(1864-1915) of which Jules Verne became not only the main
author but also a co-director.
A non-denominational publishing house, it needs to be mentioned
in this context not just for being Gautier's predecessor in
rue Jacob (7), but because, Pierre-Jules influenced the philosophy
and contents of contemporary and later juvenile publications,
including Gautier's, by successfully marketing quality collections
jeunesse written specifically for the youth by professional
or contract writers.
Hetzel started to sell their assets in bits and pieces at
the beginning of the XX Century and effectively ceased to
exist in 1930 with the death of Louis-Jules Hetzel son of
Pierre-Jules. From Hetzel, Gautier inherited the premises
and a few writers, e.g. Pierre Perrault.
Gautier, a self-effacing gentle man, devoted his life to the
firm and the publishing world; out of his long list of offices
and honours we mention only a few which prove his dedication
to education and his social commitment. He was a founder member
and director of La Maison des Orphelins du Livre and Chairman
of La Caisse des Retraites du Personnel des Librairies.
In 1932, under the patronage of the President de la République,
he organized a lottery to fund a summer camp (colonie de
vacances) for the orphans of the workers employed in the
He was also a member of the Conseil d'administration du Cercle
de La Librairie, member of the Comité du Syndicat des
Editeurs, and a co-director of Imprimerie Crétéil
(est. 1840) in Corbeil.
Officier d'Académie in 1896 for his contribution to
education, Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur since 1909,
on the recommendation of the War Department, Gautier was made
an Officer on Oct 21st, 1932, this time on the recommendation
of the Ministry of Colonies for his contribution to the diffusion
of French in the Colonies and particularly in Spanish and
Portuguese speaking countries through his "nombreuses
collections de volumes et albums pour la famille, les adultes
e les enfants dont la scrupuleuse moralité assure une
large diffusion à l'étranger".
A Parisian through and through, in 1909 he was living at 17bis
rue Paradis-Poissonière, (now simply Rue Paradis) in
the Parish of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Montholon; later he moved
to the fashionable 213, Bd. Saint Germain. Aged 72, in 1928,
with a pre-nuptial agreement, he married in Paris, VIII, Angèle
Herluison. She was a 36yrs old woman, "sans profession".
born in Aube. living in the fashionable 8me. Maurice Languereau
was a witness. There were no children.
In his latest years Gautier settled in Montecarlo where he
died, at Palais de la Plage, Boulevard des Bas Moulins at
eleven in the evening, on February 12th, 1938, having received
the last rites.
The 15th of February, Le Figaro reported his death in a short
obituary in the section Le Carnet du Figaro. The funeral
took place in Paris at the church of Saint-Germain-des Prés,
Saturday 19th February. He was buried in the Cimetière
On November 9th 1918 at the age of 51, Maurice Languereau
married Yvonne Adèle Marie Gallien (b. Coutances 27
March 1882), who was employed at G&L as Secrétaire
de rédaction; They lived in rue Saint-Guillaume 14.
They had a daughter, Claude born in 1921, whom ML immortalized
as Loulotte in the adventures of Bécassine.
Henri Gautier was present at the birth of his little niece.
Yvonne Gallien was also one of the designers of Bleuette's
wardrobe: she was a friend of Jeanne Lanvin (8) the famous
French couturière and she must have been inspired for
the doll's clothes if not by the actual Lanvin's collections
by their stylish elegance.
From 1926 to 1929 Maurice was the Chairman (after 1929, Honorary
Councillor for life) of the Cercle de la Librairie which
since 1847 represented the interests of publishing houses
and regulated publications' prices, copyrights and distribution.
He was one of the founders of the Maison du Livre Français
an association organizing the distribution of its associates'
books and for a long time Président du Syndicat
Following his uncle's charity involvement he was Administrator
of Orphelinat des Industries du Livre
Maurice Languereau who was a Law graduate, was a sound middle-class
businessman with sound Catholic conservative principles, a
charming and urbane man with a great sense of humour. "M.
Languereau est d'un vrai charme en ce temps où l'on
fait foin facilement de l'urbanité" wrote La
Croix in 1934.
Though issued from a conservative milieu, his views are surprisingly
avant-garde particularly on the position of women in society
as exemplified by Bécassine, a "Thoroughly Modern
Millie", of whom he could have said (if he didn't) "Bécassine
Chevalier de La Légion d'honneur in 1925 he was made
an Officier In 1938 on the proposal of the Ministry of Trade
for his relenteless work in the interests of the French book
He was a keen golf player and practised mountaneering during
the family regular Swiss holidays in Montana and Megève.
He died suddenly on August 10th, 1941 at his residence 23,
Quay d'Orsay, in the 7me Arr.
G&L had weathered WWI pretty much unscathed. Things were
different in WWII: early in the war, in June 1940, G&L
compelled by shortages of paper stopped the pubblication of
La Semaine. They continued to publish books until 1943.
Many were published using surplus covers of different titles,
with an apology note. For instance La Filleule des Abeilles
by Jacqueline Rivière printed by the Imprimerie Crété,
Corbeil (10-1941) was printed under the cover of Les pupilles
de Miss Giddily by Nalim.
From 1940 to 1943 the German Occupation Authorities issued
three Unerwuenschte franzoesische Literatur (known
as Liste Otto), lists of banned anti-German, antifascist,
pro-Marxist authors, publishers and books, and works by Jewish,
British and American authors, forbidding their publication,
sales and stocking.
Gautier-Languereau were not included in the lists despite
the continuous, not so subtle anti-German propaganda they
had carried on for years through their editorials under the
feature Lettre d'une Tante and the numerous Suzette stories
set during the Prussian wars and WWI. Strictly speaking they
conformed to the rules having neither foreign nor Jewish nor
Marxist authors in their catalogue.
However the Germans who had their sights on G&L well before
arriving in France, raided their premises, positioning their
tanks in the middle of rue Jacob, just two days after they
entered Paris (14 June 1940) impounding a number of publications
including three Bécassine albums published in 1916-18
with subversive storylines: Bécassine mobilisée,
Bécassine chez les Alliées, Bécassine
pendant la guerre. The raid's instigator was Otto Abetz,
the Germans' man in Paris who gave his name to the lists.
He knew exactly where and what to look for: fluent French
speaker, francophile since his youth, married to a Frenchwoman,
an art teacher by profession, he could fully appreciate Becassine's
antics' true meaning ... One cannot help thinking that the
raid had the piquancy of a personal vendetta and may have
contributed to Languereau's early death.
Maurice Languereau was most definitively un-popular with the
invaders. In December 1940 he was part of a group of publishers
and printers (Hachette, Armand Colin, G&L , Masson and
Papeteries de Navarre) who tried to prevent the Germans from
dispossessing, under the new racial laws, the Jewish publishing
house Nathan, owned by Fernand Cahen (a.k.a. Nathan). They
formed a consortium (G&L took 30 shares) and - under the
auspices of the Syndicat des Éditeurs - bought Nathan
with the pledge to return it to its rightful owner in due
course. But the sale was not approved by the occupying authorities.
In 1942 the Company was eventually sold to a "groupe
de personnes françaises et aryennes appartenant au
monde du Livre", and became Ancienne Librairie Fernand
Henri Norbert "Daniel" Imhaus (b. 9 Jan. 1882) a
former general director of Papeteries de Navarre managed it
until the end of the war when Nathan was returned to its owners;
Imhaus then moved to Gautier-Languereau.
To print their books, over the years, Gautier et Languereau
used numerous outside printers, notably Imprimerie du Loiret
in Orléans, Imprimerie Comte-Jacquet in Bar-Le-Duc,
Imprimerie Creté, Corbeil, the celebrated Firmin-Didot
in Mesnil sur l'Estrée and in the Sixties Imprimerie
Mame, Tours. La Semaine was printed by Imprimerie Charaire-Sceaux
until its very last number.
On the death of Maurice Languereau, G&L's chairmanship
had passed to Eugène Paturel. He was succeded by Yvonne
Gallien Languereau, Daniel Imhaus, and later Jacques Canlorbe
La Semaine restarted publications in 1946, initially
twice a month.
After the war, G&L decided to dedicate themselves only
to youth literature embarking in a series of publications
some more successful than others.
1945 - Le Livre de Suzette: it contained the same features
of La Semaine in paper-back format and was supposed
to be a one-off, waiting for La Semaine to reappear, but was
published yearly until 1953.
1945 - Collection Johnny et Suzette with bilingual
French-English facing text, which seems to have been shortlived
because apart from Le chat Botté/Puss in Boots by Mad.
H Giraud&Douglas Ferrers, ill. D. Arguillière,
no other titles have come to light.
1949 - Jeudi Matin a weekly in-folio newspaper for
boys with a color supplement. In this magazine were introduced
some of the authors and illustrators who later will write
for the collection Jean François es.: Jean Droit, JAN-LOUP,
Yves Dermèze (Les diamants du Tanganyika ), René
Marly (Je suis cousin de Charlemagne). It carried mundane
surveys such as "do you prefer to take a shower or a
bath in the morning?". It lasted only until 1952.
1950 - Colléction Jean-François jointly
with Fleurus. This collection of mysteries and adventures
for boys (and active girls) was quite popular, published until
1962. Now a collector item.
Notwithstanding dispirited, belated attempts to modernise,
for instance introducing in La Semaine the photo-novel, by
the Sixties G&L started to go into the decline typical
of family run firms whose existence is tied to the strong
personality of their founders.
After the death of Imhaus in 1954, the classic historical
Bibliothèque lasted only four years.
In 1959, it changed seamlessly into Nouvelle Bibliothèque
de Suzette with a new format and graphics, featuring many
new anglosaxon writers. It was later renamed Bibliothèque
Bleue (a unisex color for boys and girls) with the same
format, graphics and contents, ending definitively in the
La Semaine de Suzette had closed only a few years before
Bibliothèque, a victim of the new American style press.
Revues became comics. Fillettes, petites demoiselles, jeunes
filles et garçons became teen-agers. In the new world
there was no place for the gentle Suzette: after 55 years
the last number was published on August 25th, 1960.
Suzette surrendered with unaffected words.
But, according to an old subscriber: "... with the new
icons imposed by a new culture, like Paul Anka shouting Daiiiiianna
at the top of his head, BB wearing a bikini [....] Suzette
had become almost a caricature... [.... ]... going through
the last semester [of Suzette] and comparing it to
the Giraud years, it looked as if everybody had abandoned
ship: only a handful of writers were left to dish out the
much reduced usual features and insipid stories illustrated
with garish colours, unconvincing Lettres d'une Tante sounding
like a tired gramophone, remaining Bleuette stocks on sale,
advertising increased discreetly: it was a sad "end of
an era". To add insult to injury G&L immediately
replaced Suzette with Le Journal de Mickey, recommending it
as the favourite reading of half a million children and millions
more readers ... As if... "
At the end of the Seventies Gautier-Languereau re-published
some of the feuilletons of Les Veillées in the
collection Les Romans des Veillées des Chaumières
(i.e. Le royaume des ombres by L.N. Lavolle, 1980).
In June 1988 Gautier-Languereau was bought by the Group Cible
and in 1991, in a round kind of way, they became the property
of Hachette the same company who had bought the bulk of Hetzel
in 1914. The brand still exists as a division of Hachette.
What was left to constitute an archive (eleven boxes) is kept
in a center of literary studies, somewhere in the North of
France. In 1997 rue Jacob 18 was bought by a real estate investment
group who transformed the building in luxury apartments &
shops, keeping the front as it was in the Thirties.
Yvonne Gallien Languereau lived to a very old age dying almost
ninety in Louvenciennes on the 22nd of August 1969.
At the time of writing Loulotte is alive and well and living
in Paris. From her marriage to Jacques Canlorbe she had four
The infaticable Bécassine continued her innumerable
adventures in new prints and re-prints. In 2005, still in
great demand, she celebrated her hundredth anniversary. The
French Post Office issued a commemorative stamp.
Rue Jacob is now a street of hotels and art galleries. However
nostalgic visitors be warned: apparently the old n°18
has become n°52. Yet for me, strolling through the romantic
silent rue Jacob, one Sunday morning in spring, after having
chased Henri Gautier over a century, suddenly, somehow, nothing
seemed to matter anymore.
1) Between 1810 and 1870, the profession
of printer, bookseller, lithographer and engraver
was subject in France , to the grant of a licence
(Brevet) and an oath of allegiance to the king. The
earliest record of a H. Gautier book is dated between
1840-1870. This was Henri Joseph Gautier, (no relation)
of 197, Palais-Royal, Paris , who obtained the licence
(Brevet n° 1616) of bookseller on 26 June 1821.
He was succeeded on 28 April 1830 by M.lle Françoise
Eugénie Boileux, born 30 May 1793, of 10, rue
Montpensier, Paris. The licence was replaced by a
new one (n° 3091). M.lle Boileux had managed M.
Gautier's bookshop for many years before becoming
its proprietor on his retirement. Miss Boileux's brevet
expired on 14th September 1860 "pour inexploitation".
(2) In an interview to La Croix in 1934 M Languereau
stated that Gautier-Languereau was going back to 1853,
("notre maison fondée en 1853") Was
he referring to the date of foundation of Pringuet?
or to the beginnings of Charles Blériot ?.
In 1853 Blériot was 15 years old. As for Alphonse
Pringuet he was already in business in 1851 (see LE
CORRESPONDANT, vol. 28, 1851).
(3) Louis Blériot, born in 1836, " fort
instruit , ayant fait son droit", (wrote R de
Navéry in his obituary) died unmarried in his
property at Meudon, a suburb of Paris . After the
funeral service in the Church of Saint-Séverin,
he was buried in the family vault in the Cimitière
Among the mourners de Navéry noted the presence
of M. Alexandre Guilmant, his brother-in-law. Guilmant
(b. Boulogne-sur-Mer, 12 March 1837 - d. Meudon, 29
March 1911) was an eminent organist, the greatest
composer of organ music of his time, comparable to
Bach, a celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic, received
at the Court of St James by Queen Victoria and at
the White House by President Grover Cleveland. Organist
at the Church de La Trinité, he was also a
teacher: his very first pupil, Louise-Rosalie Blériot
(b. 1842 - d. 23 Oct.1908) a talented musician who,
as a young girl had sang in the Choir of la Trinité,
became his wife in 1865. Guilmant's funeral took place
1st April 1911 in Meudon at the Saint-Martin Church
. The blessing was made by an Abbé Blériot.
Gabriel Fauré pronounced a speech.
They had four children:
Cécile Rosalie Thérèse,
Mme Sautereau (b. 1866-d. Meudon 4 July 1911). She
became professor of solfège at the Paris Conservatoire.
In 1906 she was photographed by Nadar. A son, Joseph
Sautereau was born in 1888.
Félix Louis Jean Baptiste, (b. Boulogne-sur-Mer
7 Dec. 1867- d.?) At the age of twenty-four Félix
was already a distinguished painter, member of the
Académie des Beaux Arts. Eventually he worked
as an artist and illustrator for the Director General
of the Egyptian Authorities. Member of the Institut
français d'archéologie orientale du
Caire he took part in the archaeological excavations
in the Valley of the Kings in 1898 and made a complete
photographic record of the tomb of Rameses IX, one
of the first to produce a systematic photographic
record of archaeological discoveries which he published
in Le Tombeau de Ramsès IX, Le Caire, impr.
de l'Institut français, 1907. Married on 5
November 1923, in Paris , to Suzanne Alphonsine Lecocq.
Pauline Jeanne, (Boulogne-sur-Mer 24 March
1870-d.1950). In 1892 she married Adrien-Louis Maurice
Aliamet (c.1863-1919) an electrical engineer. Author:
Principales découvertes et publications concernant
l'électricité de 1562 à 1900
: monographie du musée rétrospectif
français de l'électricité à
l'exposition universelle de 1900 / E. Sartiaux &
M. Aliamet Paris : J. Rueff, 1903. They had two daughters.
Marie Louise Alexandrine, (b. 1876) Guilmant's
youngest daughter. She married, in 1896, Victor, the
son of the organist Clément Loret. Victor Loret
(Paris 1 Sept.1859-3 February 1946) was a famous Egyptologist
& naturalist. He was a reader at the University
of Lyons between 1886 and 1929, where he founded the
school of Egyptology . Between 1897 and 1899, he was
the Director General of the Egyptian Antiquities Service
"He ought to have been a musician, but instead
of this he is professor of Sanskrit and things of
that sort in the University of Lyons " (cit.
Music: A Monthly Magazine, 1897)
Guilmant's opus is immense. He started to compose
at a very early age: his Offertoire sur deux Noels
Opus19, no 2, completed in 1862 appeared in the fifth
book of pieces dans different styles published in
Paris by Blériot in 1868. He dedicated his
Opus 90-18 Pièces Nouvelles en sept livraisons
(1902) Livraison 4 Méditation-prière;
Mi mineur/majeur (1901) "à la mémoire
de mon cher beau-frère Charles Blériot
". Born in 1838 Charles Félix died childless
at Meudon 10 Octobre 1898 aged sixty. His death was
reported in Le Figaro on the 11th. Les Veillées
de Chaumières (12 Nov. 1898) obituary reads:
"Peu de mots suffisent à résumer
sa vie: il travailla pour Dieu. Tout ce qu'il y avait
en lui d'intelligence, d'énergie, de génie
commercial , il l'employa à servir la cause
de l'église catholique"
Clearly, there had been nobody in the family, neither
children nor nephews, to take over Blériot
Frères' publishing empire at their death.
As a footnote: Louis Blériot, the aviator,
was not a relation.
(4) Between 1918 when it was already Gautier-Languereau
and 1926 before they moved to rue Jacob, Henri Gautier
was still selling Dillet stock re-bound in a flimsy
Gautier-Languereau cover in Collection Choisie (see
Laure Aubry, Collection Choisie, Dillet 1876-Librairie
Henri Gautier, Gautier-Languereau Editeurs, 55 Quai
des Grands-Augustins s.d.).
(5) It is suggested that the name Suzette was chosen
by Jacqueline Rivière who was part of the original
editorial team and had a daughter called Suzanne.
For a historical and critical appraisal of Bécassine
see: Bécassine ou l'image d'une femme by Hélène
Davreux, Ediitons Labor, 2006 Bécassine inconnue,
by Marianne Couderc CNRS ÉDITIONS, 2000
One thing Hetzel father and H. Gautier had in common was
that they both used to winter in Montecarlo where in fact
both died, Hetzel in 1886, Gautier in 1938.
8) According to Bernard Lehembre in Bécassine: Une
Légende du Siècle, Gallien had been "gouvernante
des enfants du couturier Lanvin". As far as it is known
Jeanne Lanvin had only one daughter Marie-Blanche (1897-1958)
by her first husband Henri di Pietro. Lanvin dressed a number
of Huret-Prevost dolls (now at the Museée des Arts
Decoratifs) and dolls made during WWI at the National Manufactory
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