Mendès, Catulle

BORN 22 May 1841, Bordeaux, Gironde - DIED 7 Feb 1909, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Yvelines
CAUSE OF DEATH train accident
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Cimetière du Montparnasse, 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet (division 22)

Catulle Mendès came from a family of Portuguese Jews. He grew up in Toulouse and after his arrival in Paris 1859 he became a protege of Théophile Gautier. His novel "Roman d'une nuit" was published in La Revue fantaisiste in 1861 and resulted in one month of imprisonment and a fine of 500 francs because of indecency.

In 1863 his first volume of poems "Philoméla" was published. He married Gautier's daughter Judith in 1866. They separated soon afterwards and from 1869 onwards he lived with the composer Augusta Holmès. They had five children, but they split up in 1885. In 1897 he married the poet Jeanne Mette.

Mendès wrote novels like "Le Roi Vierge" (1880) and "Mephistophela" (1890). He also wrote plays, among them "Médée" (1898) and "Scarron" (1904). As supporter of Richard Wagner he wrote the book "Richard Wagner" in 1886. In 1892 he wrote the libretto for Debussy's first opera "Roderique et Chimnen". From 1893 onwards he was drama critic for Le Journal.

In February 1908 his body was found in the railway tunnel of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He had taken the train from Paris the night before and possibly he had opened the door too early. Suicide was suggested as well.

Related persons
• was the lover of Holmès, Augusta
• was loved by Rachilde
• admired Wagner, Richard

9/12/1896Banquet in honour of Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. She had returned from a long tour in the USA. Six hundred people were invited, among them Poincaré and Antoine Rothschild. She was honoured by Coppée, Mendes and Rostand. [Bernhardt, Sarah]


The grave of Catulle Mendès at the Cimetière Montparnasse, Paris.
Picture by Androom (18 Feb 2016)


• Orlandi, Enzo en Mario Rivoire (ed.), Onsterfelijke Vrouwen (deel 1), Spaarnestad, Haarlem, 1969
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Catulle Mendès - Wikipedia

Menschik, Josef

Published: 27 Nov 2016
Last update: 19 Apr 2022