Bibliothèque de SuZette

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A Short History of Gautier-Languereau
and La Semaine de Suzette

Article published in the 2010 October issue of Journal of Belles Lettres
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

Henri Gautier,
a few months before his death in 1938
© Hachette

Maurice Languereau
© Hachette

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 a tailor.
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:

Claire 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 ca1905
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.

In 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 Légion d'Honneur.

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.


As 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.

La 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 légal.
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 légal.

In 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 publishers/booksellers.
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.


fragment from the cover of La Revue de l'Art Chrétien, 1860

Librairie de Blériot Freres

Jacqueline Rivière
in Les Veillées des Chaumières

Advertising for Bleuette

Things made easy...
A pre-printed subscription postcard
used before 1926

Bécassine and her mistress, la Marquise de Grand'Air

Bécassine's centenary
commemorative stamp

Le Mystère de Kerjonc,

L'Héritière de Ferlac,

Les Vacances de Suzette
cover R. de La Nézière

Palais de la Plage, Monaco
©Groupe Pastor

18, Rue Jacob in April 2007
©Maria Kovos

In 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 Belin, Saint Cloud or, in 1861, Rousseau-Leroy, 26, rue Saint-Maurice, Arras.
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 laborieux editeur".

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:
L'Ouvrier (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 de France.

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.

Gautier started immediately to re-organize Blériot catalogue and launch his own collections:

Collection Blériot (es. Marinette by Marie Alderic) which then became
Collection Blériot - Bibliothèque Grise (1884)
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 d'aventures
Collection Bibliothèque des Petites Sources de Richesses
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 1918)
Collection Familia (1922-1947) 120 titles. The first volume Lequel? by Mathilde Aigueperse

On 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.
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.

Why the name Suzette was chosen, official history doesn't say (5).
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).

But 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.

For 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 and L'Ouvrier.
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 de Pinchon.

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 radio vedette.
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.

The Postman cometh ... postcard 1905, ill. R de La Nézière

Maurice 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).

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 without families.

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 his death.
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 exhibitions.

In 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)
Zagreb 1925
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, Diplôme d'Honneur
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 copies?

Gautier-Languereau'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.

In 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.

Maison Pierre-Jules Hetzel et, (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.

Henri 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 publishing industry.
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 de Passy.

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 des Éditeurs.
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 c'est moi".
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 industry.
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 Nathan.
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 (Claude's husband).

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 mid-Sixties.

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 children.
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 de Montparnasse.
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.

(6) 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

(7) 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 at Sèvres.

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