Marcel Pagnol: Wikis


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Marcel Pagnol
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Marcel Pagnol (February 28, 1895 – April 18, 1974) was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. In 1946, he became the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française.



Pagnol was born on February 28, 1895 in Aubagne, Bouches-du-Rhône département, in southern France near Marseille, the eldest son of school teacher Joseph PagnolA and seamstress Augustine Lansot.B[1] Marcel Pagnol grew up in Marseille with his younger brothers Paul, René, and younger sister Germaine.


School years

To his father's amazement, Pagnol learned to read at a young age but his mother did not allow him to touch a book until he was six "for fear of cerebral explosion". In July 1904, the family rented the Bastide Neuve,[1] – a house in the sleepy Provençal village of La Treille – for the summer holidays, the first of many spent in the hilly countryside between Aubagne and Marseille.[2] About the same time, Augustine's health, which had never been robust, began to noticeably decline and on 16 June 1910 she succumbed to a chest infection ("mal de poitrine") and died, aged 36.[3] Joseph remarried in 1912.[1] In 1913 at the age of 18 he passed his baccalaureate in philosophy[1] and started studying literature at the University in Aix-en-Provence. When the First World War broke out, he was called up into the infantry at Nice but in January 1915 but was discharged because of his poor constitution ("faiblesse de constitution'').[1] On 2 March 1916, he married Simone Colin in Marseille and in November graduated in English.[1] He became an English teacher, teaching in various local colleges and at a lycée in Marseille.[1]

Paris: teacher and playwright

In 1922, he moved to Paris where he taught English until 1927,[1] when he decided instead to devote his life to playwriting. During this time, he belonged to a group of young writers, in collaboration with one of whom, Paul Nivoix, he wrote the play, Merchants of Glory, which was produced in 1924. This was followed, in 1928, by Topaze, a satire based on ambition.[1] Exiled in Paris he returned nostalgically to his Provençal roots, taking this as his setting for his play, Marius, which later became Pagnol's first film in 1931.

Separated from Simone Collin since 1926 (though not divorced until 1941), he formed a relationship with the young English dancer Kitty Murphy: their son, Jacques Pagnol, was born on 24 September 1930.[1] (Jacques later became his father's assistant and subsequently a cameraman for France 3 Marseille.)


In 1926, on a visit to London, Pagnol attended a screening of one of the first talking films and he was so impressed that he decided to devote his efforts to cinema. He contacted Paramount Picture studios and suggested adapting his play Marius for cinema. This was directed with Alexander Korda and was released on 10 October 1931.[1] It became one of the first successful French-language talking films. In 1932 Pagnol founded his own film production studios in the countryside near Marseille.[1] Over the next decade Pagnol produced his own films, taking many different roles in the production – financier, director, script writer, studio head, and foreign-language script translator – and employing the greatest French actors of the period. In 1947, Pagnol was elected to the Académie Française, taking his seat in March 1947, the first filmmaker to receive this honour.[1]

The birth of a novelist

In 1945, Pagnol re-married, to actress Jacqueline Bouvier.[1] They had two children together, Frédéric (born 1946) and Estelle (born 1951).[1] In 1954, Estelle died, aged two. He was so devastated that he fled the south and returned to live in Paris. He went back to writing plays, but after his next piece was badly received he decided to change his job once more and began writing a series of autobiographical novels – Souvenirs d'enfance – based on his childhood experiences. In 1957, the first two novels in the series, La Gloire de mon père and Le château de ma mère were published to instant acclaim.[1] The third Le Temp de secrets was published in 1959;[1] though the fourth Le Temps d'amour was to remain unfinished and was not published until 1977, after his death. In the meantime, Pagnol turned to a second series, L'Eau des collinesJean de Florette and Manon des Sources – which focused on the machinations of Provençal peasant life at the turn of the twentieth century and were published in 1962.[1]

Pagnol died in Paris on April 18, 1974.[1] He is buried in the municipal cemetery at La Treille, along with his mother and father, brothers, and wife. His boyhood friend, David Magnan (Lili des Bellons in the autographies), died at the Second Battle of the Marne in July 1918, and is buried nearby.

Pagnol adapted his own film Manon des Sources, with his wife, Jacqueline, in the title role, into two novels, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, collectively titled L'Eau des Collines. In the 1980s, both books were adapted back into film by film-maker Claude Berri, to international acclaim. Pagnol's affectionate reminiscences of childhood, La Gloire de mon père and Le château de ma mère were also filmed successfully by Yves Robert in 1990.


  • 1939: Best foreign film for HARVEST - New York Film Critics Circle Awards
  • 1940: Best foreign film for The Baker's Wife - New York Film Critics Circle Awards
  • 1950: Best foreign film for Jofroi - New York Film Critics Circle Awards


Filmography, as director

Footnotes, notes and references

  • ^A  Born 25 October 1869. Died 8 November 1951, age 82.
  • ^B  Born 11 September 1873. Died 16 June 1910, age 36.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Castans (1987), pp 363–368
  2. ^ Castans (1987), p. 22.
  3. ^ Castans (1987), pp 27 & 32.
  • Castans, Raymond (1987). Marcel Pagnol. Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès. ISBN 9782709 606226

External links

Preceded by
Maurice Donnay
Seat 25
Académie française

Succeeded by
Jean Bernard


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