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This report is taken from PN Review 67, Volume 15 Number 5, May - June 1989.

The Shoe-string Days of Jean Anouilh David Arkell
On 8 January 1938 I reported to the Madeleine police station in Paris and told them that I intended to come and live in their district. All changes of domicile by a foreigner had to be registered, and this was a rule the police took seriously. They asked me all the usual questions but I avoided giving them the real reason for my move (it would have sounded silly): to be near Jean Anouilh and the Théâtre des Mathurins.

Anouilh had just had a hit there with his new play Le Voyageur sans bagage for the Pitoeffs. The combination of Anouilh and the Pitoeffs seemed quite miraculous and I wished to bask for a while in their aura. I therefore chose a hotel almost opposite the theatre (no. 11 rue de Greffulhe) which I'm glad to say is still there, as is the Théâtre des Mathurins. Not so the Pitoeffs, or Anouilh himself, who died in October 1987.

Just before his death, however, Anouilh wrote a book that surprised Parisians, the sort of book he had vowed never to write or allow to be written: a book of memoirs. He always liked to keep his life a secret so that the least raising of the veil is a privilege. There are no great revelations but what is really touching is his feeling for the Pitoeffs, his gratitude to them for giving him his first chance. I also learnt what was going on across the road in that ...


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