Neo-Romantic French poet and playwright Edmond Rostand is the subject of today’s (30 May) Google Doodle.
Most famous for the play Cyrano de Bergerac, about a chivalrous swordsman with a huge nose, today’s artwork celebrates Rostand’s “literary brilliance.
Who was Edmond Rostand?
Edmond Rostand was born into an affluent and cultured family in Marseille, France; his father was a member of the Marseille Academy and the Institut de France, as well as an economist and poet.
Rostand attended the Collège Stanislas in Paris, where he studied literature, history and philosophy.
Rostand’s first play, a one-act comedy called ‘Le Gant Rouge’ (’The Red Glove’), was staged at the capital’s Cluny Theatre when he was just 20 years old, but went almost unnoticed.
Rostand published a collection of poetry in 1890, and the same year offered a one-act play in verse to the director of the Théâtre François, giving him the opportunity to compose a three-act drama for the state theatre.
Les Romanesques, the resulting play, was staged at the theatre in 1894, and was a huge hit, marking the beginning of Edmond’s career as a playwright.
A parody of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it told the story of two families who fake a feud to encourage their children to fall in love.
The Fantasticks, the long-running American musical The Fantasticks, was adapted from Les Romanesques in 1960.
In 1897, Rostand had a triumph with the performance of his heroic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac; the first production ran for more than 300 nights in a row, and was translated into English, German, Russian, and other European languages.
Rostand had done extensive research into French 17th-century history for the play, and the drama’s sentimental hero – beset by a love triangle – came to represent the French spirit.
On this day in 1901, Rostand became the youngest writer ever to be elected to the Académie française, the principal French council for matters pertaining to the French language.
Rostand was married to Rosemonde-Étienette Gérard, a poet and playwright who wrote Les Pipeaux, a volume of verse acclaimed by the Academy in 1890.
Jean and Maurice were the couple’s two sons.
How did he die?
Rostand sought treatment for his pleurisy at the Villa Arnaga in Cambo-les-Bains, in the French Basque Country, in the early 1900s.
The house to which he relocated is now a museum dedicated to Rostand’s life, as well as Basque architecture and crafts.
Rostand died in 1918 as a result of the Spanish flu pandemic and is buried in Marseille’s Cimetière.
He died young at the age of 50, while still writing plays.
In 1922, ‘La Dernière Nuit de Don Juan‘ (’The Last Night of Don Juan’) was staged posthumously; Yorick and Les Petites Manies were two of hisunfinished and unpublished plays.