Sophie Brzeska-Gaudier left a few hundred manuscripts, that were never before published, most of which she had written in French and English. Her first book was published 83 years after her death thanks to Gillian Raffles, a researcher and collector of works of Henry Gaudier Brzeska, an artist with whom Sophia lived in an informal relationship until his untimely death in 1915. The book prepared by Gillian was published in 2008 in London by Mercury Graphics in a limited collectors’ edition of 125 copies.
Thanks to the financial support from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage the book „Mother and other writings” in the translation by James Jedliński was published by Culture Shock Foundation in May 2014.
Sophie Brzeska and Henry Gaudier first met in 1909 at the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève in Paris. For Sophie, at that time a 38 year old governess, the city was supposed to be the last stop. Dissatisfied with her life and lost in desperation after having suffered the betrayal of the man she loved, she came there to write a book about her tragedy and commit suicide. Everything changed, when she became an object of affection for less than 19 year old boy, who used to study anatomical drawing in the evenings at the same library and who was watching her closely. Soon Henry realized that he was certain of two things in his life: one being that he was to become a great artist, and the second one – that he was in love with Sophie. They decided to live and work together in London, and their plans to leave were hastened by Henry’s appointment to the army.
The common life at the new site became the beginning of their most difficult and most magnificent period of their lives and artistic creativity, that was prematurely ended with Henry’s departure for the French front. Henry died in July 1915, at the age of just 23 years.
Living in London, Henry and Sophie have created a kind of myth, a legend of Gaudier Brzeska, which became an inspiration for artists. Their tragic fate described by Harold Stanley Ede in his book entitled “The Wild Messiah”, which was filmed by Ken Russel in 1972 under the same title.
Sophie Brzeska died on March 17th 1925 in the mental hospital in Gloucester, England. In her death certificate her occupation was stated to be a writer, even though her only book has been published 83 years after her death.
Sophie’s Brzeska book is not easy to read, but it is a great complement information about this forgotten writer.
We invite you to reach for this book, which can be purchased on the Foundation’s site and in selected bookstores.
Review of the book, that appeared in “Nowe Książki” magazine.
Available only in Polish.
Blog documenting the work on the project: Zofia Brzeska-Gaudier.