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Samuel Beckett

Samuel BeckettAKA Samuel Barclay Beckett

Born: 13-May-1906
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: 22-Dec-1989
Location of death: Paris, France
Cause of death: Respiratory failure
Remains: Buried, Cimetière de Montparnasse, Paris, France

Gender: Male
Religion: Agnostic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Playwright, Novelist, Poet

Nationality: Ireland
Executive summary: Waiting for Godot

Military service: French Resistance (WWII)

Playwright, poet, and novelist Samuel Beckett was introverted and unhappy in childhood and adolescence, pessimistic and fatalistic in his prose. His best known work, originally dismissed by some critics as a strange play in which nothing happens, was Waiting for Godot, wherein two characters wait for a third, who never arrives. He frequently wrote of dark events, stark fear, lack of identity, purposelessness, and death, yet he had an ability to occasionally pierce the bleakness and make such topics suddenly comedic.

As a young man he studied at Trinity College Dublin, and worked as secretary to James Joyce, who became his mentor. His adopted home was France, where he settled in 1937, and he said that he preferred "France in war to Ireland in peace." He worked with the French Underground during the World War II occupation by Germany, first as a courier in Paris and later with the Maquis sabotage of the German army in the Vaucluse mountains. For his service he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and French Médaille de la Résistance.

Though English was his native language, all of his major works were originally written in French. He said he was appalled to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, fearing it would make him a celebrity everywhere he went, and he sent a friend to Stockholm to accept the honor on his behalf. He spent more than fifty years with his lover, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, and died just months after her death in 1989.

VLADIMIR: We have to come back tomorrow.

ESTRAGO: What for?

VLADIMIR: To wait for Godot.

ESTRAGON: Ah! (Long pause.) He didn't come?


Father: William Beckett Jr. (surveyor)
Mother: May Roe Beckett (m. 31-Aug-1901, d. 1950)
Brother: Frank Beckett (d. 1954)
Girlfriend: Peggy Guggenheim (art collector, together 1937)
Wife: Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil (b. 1900, together after 1938, m. 1961, d. 1989, no children)

    High School: Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Ireland
    University: BA, Trinity College Dublin (1927)
    Lecturer: English, École Normale Supérieure, Paris (1928-30)
    Lecturer: French, Trinity College Dublin (1930-32)
    University: MA, Trinity College Dublin (1931)

    Croix de Guerre 1946
    French Médaille de la Résistance 1946
    Nobel Prize for Literature 1969
    Irish Ancestry
    Mugged 1937
    Stabbed Paris (Jan-1938)
    Surgery Tumor removed from jaw, 1965
    Surgery Cataract removal, 1970, 1971
    Risk Factors: Cancer, Emphysema, Insomnia

Author of books:
Proust (1931, essays)
Dream of Fair to Middling Women (1932, novel; first published in 1993)
More Pricks Than Kicks (1933, novel)
Echo's Bones (1935, poetry)
Murphy (1938, novel)
Mercier and Camier (1946, novel; first published in 1970)
Three Dialogues (1949, letters to and from Georges Duthuit)
Malone Dies (1951, novel)
Molloy (1951, novel)
The Unnamable (1953, novel)
Watt (1953, novel)
How It Is (1961, novel)
Imagination Dead, Imagine (1965, novel)
Stories and Texts for Nothing (1967, short stories)
First Love (1970, novel)
The Lost Ones (1972, novel)
Mirlitonades (1978, poetry)
The Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989 (1995, short stories)

Wrote plays:
Eleutheria (1947, first published in 1995)
En Attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) (1953)
Act Without Words (1956)
Act Without Words II (1956)
All That Fall (1956)
Endgame (1957)
Krapp's Last Tape (1958)
Rough for Theatre (1958)
Embers (1959)
Happy Days (1960)
Words and Music (1961)
The Old Tune (1963)
Play (1963)
Come and Go (1965)
Breath (1969)
Not I (1972)
Footfalls (1975)
That Time (1975)
A Piece of Monologue (1980)
Rockaby (1981)
Catastrophe (1982)
Ohio Impromptu (1982)
What Where (1983)
Quad (1982)

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