Gérard de Nerval

1808 (Paris) – 1855 (Paris)

His lifelong schoolfriend Gautier wrote a soul-searching memoir after Nerval’s suicide. They were members of Nodier’s Cénacle, where Hugo and Dumas were ‘stars’, and subsequently of Gautier’s own more bohemian Club des Haschischins, alongside Baudelaire and Delacroix. Nerval happily cultivated his own reputation (so accounts of him leading a lobster named Thibault for walks may have been embellished). He translated his friend Heine’s work, travelled the Rhine and wrote an operetta with Dumas, and was written to by Goethe praising the translations he’d done, aged 19, of his ‘Faust’ (illustrated by Delacroix).