Hugnet, Georges, 1906-1974

Alternative names
Birth 1906-07-11
Death 1974-06-26
French, English

Biographical notes:

French writer, poet and painter, expelled from the Surrealists in 1938, after a dispute with André Breton.

From the description of Notes about André Breton, [not before 1947]. (Getty Research Institute). WorldCat record id: 78996469

French poet and critic.

From the description of Georges Hugnet Papers 1920-1971. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 85242177

Georges Hugnet, French poet and critic, was born in Paris in 1906. He spent most of his early childhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 1913 returned to Paris to attend boarding school at Saint-Louis-de-Gonazgue. He later attended collège at Janson-de-Sailly in Saint-Malo, the childhood home of his mother and favorite vacation spot during his youth. Youthful exuberance and a penchant for pranks often caused trouble for young Georges, including an incident when he is said to have played Le Pélican, a fox-trot, during one of the religious services at his collège in Saint-Malo. Hugnet’s early rebelliousness eventually developed into a combative, stubborn nature causing quarrels with publishers, other artists, poets, friends, and family throughout his life.

Hugnet was a man of many talents and dabbled in a variety of artistic pursuits including poetry, editing, publishing, translating, film and play writing, acting, rare book collecting, and book binding design until his death in 1974.

Influential friends and mentors played an important role in Hugnet’s career. In 1920, he developed a friendship with his downstairs neighbor Marcel Jouhandeau. Jouhandeau influenced the young poet Hugnet and introduced Hugnet to his hero Max Jacob. During this time, Hugnet was also befriended by a number of other influential artists of the early 20th century, namely Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Tristan Tzara, Man Ray, and Jean Cocteau. With financial backing from his father, a furniture manufacturer, Hugnet established the publishing company Les Editions de la Montagne with the intent of publishing his own works and the work of his close friends including Tristan Tzara, Pierre de Massot, and Gertrude Stein.

It was Virgil Thomson who introduced Gertrude Stein and Hugnet in 1926. Stein and Hugnet’s short-lived, intense relationship, lasting until 1930, ended in a quarrel over the title page of Enfances, a collaborative project between the two authors. Hugnet originally wrote the poems of Enfances in French and Stein intended to translate the poems into English. The partnership failed when Stein’s translations became reflections and she demanded equal billing on the title page. Hugnet refused and the partnership, as well as the friendship, ended. In 1931, Stein published Before the Flowers of Friendship Faded Friendship Faded, her response to Hugnet’s then unpublished Enfances .

In the 1930s Hugnet became involved with the Surrealist movement. André Breton, the self-declared Pope of the Surrealist movement, became interested in Hugnet after reading an article titled Spirit of Dada in Painting that Hugnet had written. When a mutual friend of both men, Tristan Tzara, introduced them, Hugnet became one of the Surrealists. He continued contributing to the Surrealist movement until 1939 when Breton excommunicated Hugnet for his failure to cease his friendship with former surrealist Paul Éluard.

The 1940s brought much change to Hugnet’s life. Germany occupied France early in the decade prompting Hugnet to join the French Resistance. He put his intellectual efforts towards the Resistance and published Non vouloir, one of the first Resistance pieces published in France. In 1940, Hugnet also married his first wife Germaine Pied; their marriage would last for ten years.

In 1950, Hugnet married Myrtille Hubert, a young woman of seventeen. The following year, Hugnet and Myrtille’s first and only son Nicolas Hugnet was born.

Until his death in 1974, Hugnet continued to publish a few new works and republish new editions of his former works. But mostly he concentrated on trading and collecting rare books and manuscripts from his friends in the French literary world.

From the guide to the Georges Hugnet Papers TXRC06-A17., 1920-1971, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)


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Constellation Information

Ark ID:


  • Surrealism
  • World War, 1939-1945--Underground literature--France
  • Surrealism--France
  • World War, 1939-1945--Undergroundliterature
  • Authors--Political and social views
  • French poetry


  • Binder


  • France (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)