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Arthur Meyer (Le Havre, 1844 - Paris, 1924) was a French press baron. He was director of Le Gaulois, a notable conservative French daily newspaper that was eventually taken over by Le Figaro (run by François Coty at the time) in 1929.

Arthur Meyer in his office

Contents

Background

This grandson of a rabbi from a modest Jewish family eventually became a royalist, an "anti-Dreyfusard" (a non-supporter of the victim of the Dreyfus affair) and a Catholic. He was an unusual personality, a key player at the crossroads of society life, the press, and politics under the French Third Republic.

Career

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Le Gaulois

In 1882, Arthur Meyer, who had hired Octave Mirbeau as a secretary two years earlier, took over the newspaper Le Gaulois permanently. The paper had been founded in July 1868 by Edmond Tarbé des Sablons and Henri de Pène, and it was essentially the main daily social paper of the nobility and the elite of the bourgeoisie in France. Catering to the high-class socialites, Le Gaulois had a relatively small circulation, between 20 and 30 thousand copies, but it had a very real influence on French society. It was the first newspaper to have a column about films, which first appeared in March 1916. From June 1897 until August 1914, Le Gaulois du dimanche (the Sunday edition of Le Gaulois) was the weekly literary supplement of choice and it contained many serials over the years; it was in Le Gaulois du dimanche that Raymond Roussel's Locus Solus appeared.

Other enterprises

In 1881, Meyer had the idea, along with Alfred Grévin, to represent the personalities that made the front page of the news section as wax mannequins, which allowed visitors – in an era before photography was used in the press – to put a face to the names in the news. This was the beginning of the Musée Grévin, which opened its doors on June 5, 1882 and swiftly became successful.

Political life

In 1888, Meyer supported the general Georges Ernest Boulanger and plotted with the Duchess of Uzés to bring about the return of the monarchy. He engaged in a duel with Édouard Drumont, who had insulted his origins in La France Juive, and also supported the guilt of fellow Jew Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongfully accused of treason in the aforementioned Dreyfus affair. Meyer converted to Catholicism in 1901 without ceasing to be the target of the anti-Semitic activist group Action Française.

Personal life

He married Mlle de Turenne, a young aristocrat, in 1904 – a marriage that came relatively late in his life. Meyer died in 1924.

Works

  • Ce que mes yeux ont vu ("What My Eyes Saw") - 1911
  • Ce que je peux dire ("What I Can Say") - 1917

References

Odette Carasso, Arthur Meyer, Directeur du Gaulois. Un patron de presse juif, royaliste et antidreyfusard, Editions Imago, 2003.


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