Lynn Barber

Love in Bateau Lavoir

Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier


Harry N Abrams 296pp £24 order from our bookshop

Fernande Olivier – ‘La Belle Fernande’ – was Picasso’s first live-in lover and a hugely important figure in his early Paris period. She lived with him at the Bateau Lavoir from 1905, when he was twenty-three, until 1911. And she kept a diary! This volume, well edited by the Picasso scholar Marilyn McCully, is a patch work of her diary, memoirs and letters, and takes her story up to 1911,when she broke with Picasso. An epilogue by John Richardson describes what happened to her afterwards.
Olivier was born Amélie Lang, father unknown, in June 1881, and records in her journal: ‘I was an unwanted child, born to a young girl and a married man. I was brought up by a family who never accepted me.’ She lived with her uncle, aunt and cousin, but was always a cuckoo in the nest. Her diary begin on her fifteenth birthday, and at first it is fairly standard schoolgirl stuff. But then comes her downfall, and thereafter her narrative is gripping.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,