SOPHIE BRZESKA

 

 

Sophie Brzeska met Henri Gaudier-Brzeska in Paris in 1910 and they were together until he left for the Front in France.

 

Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska died intestate in the Gloucestershire Mental hospital at Barnwood in March 1925. H.S.Ede acquired her estate in 1927 from the Treasury Solicitor, it included not only her writings, but also the estate of Henri Gaudier, with many of his works and papers. Ede drew extensively on the letters written by Gaudier to Sophie and her writings and other material when he published ‘A Life of Gaudier-Brzeska’ in 1930. The papers he used for this account are now in the archives of Cambridge University, Essex University and the Musée d’Orléans.

 

Sophie Brzeska referred constantly to her ‘work’ and aspirations to be a published writer, and consistently talked about them to Henri Gaudier. She wrote a number of versions of her ‘Autobiography’ entitled ‘Matka’ but nothing in her own words has previously been published.

 

This book ‘Matka and other writings’ is from manuscript sheets which have lain forgotten and unpublished for over fifty years. One part of this group of papers is a version of ‘Matka’ and it includes her first meeting and her life with Henri Gaudier, and their adoption of the name Gaudier-Brzeska. It contains her account of what happened to her immediately after Henri Gaudier-Brzeska was killed at the Front in France in 1915 and graphically recounts her efforts and trials to arrange a Memorial exhibition of his work, and gives a frank view of how she felt his friends, T.E.Hulme, Ezra Pound, Robert Bevan and others behaved towards her. Also included are later postcards and letters to the artist Nina Hamnett.

 

 Sophie Brzeska wrote in both French and English and it is clear from the language and tempo of the writings that she was highly strung and emotional. When writing in English her spelling becomes progressively more chaotic as did her handwriting in both languages. The intention has been to keep these elements evident in the translation and transcription in order to be true to her character and escalating emotional intensity, and to hear her unique voice. Her ignoring of conventional punctuation has been retained for the same reason.

 

Work by HENRI GAUDIER-BRZESKA is always available at

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©Mercury Graphics 2008