Gaspard-Félix Tournachon

1820 (Paris) – 1910 (Paris)

Nadar and Verne were close friends, keen on aviation and a bohemian lifestyle. Gautier was a lifelong friend (publishing many of his photos), Doré another (Nadar collecting his work). He was close to the writers Vigny, Sand, Dumas, the Goncourts and Nerval, while the impressionists Monet, Sisley, Cézanne, Morisot, Degas and Pissarro rented his studio to hold their first exhibition. Chevreul met him many times, Baudelaire praised his vitality, and Murger died of syphilis in his arms. He helped out the blind Daumier, photographed his old friend Hugo on his death-bed, and in old age befriended Mistral in Marseille.

Richard Steele

1672 (Dublin) – 1729 (Carmarthen, Wales)

Steele and his schoolfriend and brother-in-arms Addison pretty much invented a mode of engagingly witty yet serious journalism, whose wide influence can be felt even today. He knew both Jacob Tonsons, dining with Tonson the elder as a sort of editorial consultant, or sometimes just to get his bills discounted. He wrote a prologue to one of Vanbrugh’s plays. Swift, Pope, Young and Berkeley were all among his circle of contributors. Pope and he had a warm mutual respect; Swift (under the pen-name Humphrey Wagstaff, to Steele’s Isaac Bickerstaff) started as a good friend, though the relationship later deteriorated.

Claude Lanzmann

1925 (Paris) – 2018 (Paris)

Lanzmann was befriended by his elders Sartre and de Beauvoir, then started working on their review ‘Les Temps Modernes’ (which Lanzmann published after their demise). He had a long affair with de Beauvoir, staying close to her until her death: she worked with him on his landmark film ‘Shoah.’ He met Fanon in North Africa and acted as emissary between him and Sartre (his planned book about Fanon, following Fanon’s death, came to nothing). Lanzmann worked with Ophüls on his film about Klaus Barbie. Tournier and he had met as students from France in post-war Germany, studying philosophy in Tübingen.

Claude Lanzmann knew…

Raymond Aron

1905 (Paris) – 1983 (Paris)

Sartre, Nizan and Aron all met at school: Canguilhem joined them at the École Nationale Supérieur. Sartre, de Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty were among Aron’s co-founders of the review ‘Les Temps modernes.’ Camus edited another journal, ‘Combat’, with him. He was taught by Alain (the pen-name of Émile Chartier), while Bourdieu became his teaching assistant. He worked briefly with Malraux; Arendt became a friend when she fled Nazi Germany. He said that if his fellow-student Cavaillès had survived, he (Aron) would not have committed so many errors.

James Leigh Hunt

1784 (Southgate, England) – 1859 (London)

Hunt and Coleridge went to the same school. Lamb (a fellow stutterer) was among his London literary/journalistic circle, as were Shelley, Byron, Procter and Hazlitt, who contributed to his radical journal ‘Yellow Dwarf.’ Byron visited him in gaol after he lampooned the Prince Regent. He kept a bed made up for Keats in his library, introduced Shelley to him, and fell out with Haydon over a loan to Keats. Shelley and Byron got him to join them in Italy, but Shelley drowned and Keats soon went on to Greece. He later championed his friends Thackeray and Tennyson, and kept a piece of Shelley’s jawbone on his desk.

Christopher Logue

1926 (Portsmouth, England) – 2011 (London)

Logue, better-known in Britain than elsewhere (his translation of the Iliad is celebrated), was a socially-engaged poet with a strong suit in wry satire. Trocchi’s Paris-based magazine ‘Merlin’ published early work of Logue’s; Trocchi also saved him from suicide. Logue wrote a pornographic novel for Girodias, and hung out with Beckett and Miller. He appeared in a fim of Gilliam’s as a spaghetti-eating maniac. Wesker and he were jailed together for civil disobedience. He said that Donleavy held grudges obsessively, and had nothing but books about copyright on his bookshelves.

Charles Dickens

1812 (Landport, England) – 1870 (Rochester)

Dickens worked with the illustrators Browne (‘Phiz’) and Cruikshank, and first met Thackeray when he applied unsuccessfully for similar work. He supposedly based the character Uriah Heep on Andersen, denied basing the unpleasant Skimpole on Leigh Hunt (for whom he helped organise a pension), and dedicated Hard Times to Carlyle. He toured Italy with Collins. In America he took snuff from Allston, celebrated Thanksgiving with Longfellow, shared Irving’s concern for proper copyright laws, and also befriended Emerson and Poe, whose poem ‘The Raven’ was inspired by Dickens’ pet raven Grip.