Sonia Ashmore

Man on a Bicycle

Zola: Photographer

By François Emile-Zola and Massin

Collins 183pp £15 order from our bookshop

Emile Zola appears to have been a man of considerable energy. Besides the novels, plays, reviews and polemic, he ran two separate households, one for his wife Alexandrine, the other with his great love Jeanne Rozerot and their two children. He designed extensions to his official country residence at Medan, and to get from one house to the other in time for afternoon tea with the children, he bicycled. In 1894 Zola took up photography and practised it avidly until his accidental death eight years later. Not a man to do things by halves, Zola eventually bought ten cameras, with their tripods, cases and lenses, and had three dark rooms installed in his houses. ‘Every man should have a hobby’, he told a reporter, ‘and I confess to an extreme passion for mine.’

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