Claudel, Paul Louis Charles, 1868-1955 (diplomat, poet and dramatist)
- Existence: 1868 - 1955
The French playwright, poet and essayist Paul Claudel was born in Villeneuve-sur-Fève, Aisne, on 6 August 1868. He pursued a diplomatic career, and after holding consular posts in the United States, China, Europe and Brazil, was appointed French Ambassador in Tokyo (1922), Washington (1927) and Brussels (1933-5). From the 1890s onwards he published a large body of poetry and drama, including 'Cinq Grandes Odes' and 'Le Soulier de Satin'. In 1939 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He died in Paris on 23 February 1955, recognised as one of the most considerable literary figures of his age. Audrey Manuella Enriqueta Bapst was born on 3 November 1892, the daughter of a French Alsatian father and a British mother of Polish and Brazilian parentage. Raised in England, she married in 1913 Raymond Cecil Parr (1884-1965), a diplomat then acting as Third Secretary in the British Embassy in Rome. It was there that she met Claudel, during a mission he undertook in 1915-16, and their friendship developed when both Raymond Parr and Claudel were appointed to posts in Rio de Janeiro, in 1916 and 1917 respectively. In Brazil, Audrey Parr collaborated with Claudel and his secretary Darius Milhaud in a ballet, 'L'Homme et Son Désir, for which she provided set designs. She and Claudel met intermittently in the 1920s as he and Raymond Parr pursued their careers in various countries. In 1930 Audrey Parr separated from her husband, and settled in London, where she moved in aristocratic and artistic circles, established a lingerie shop, and undertook interior design work. She married Captain Norman Robert Colville, M.C. (1893-1974) in 1938, and subsequently spent much time in Cornwall. On the outbreak of the Second World War she enlisted as a nursing officer in the Red Cross. She was killed in a road accident between Launceston and Egloskerry on 7 May 1940.
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