Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil

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Suzanne Georgette Anna Déchevaux-Dumesnil (1900 – 17 July 1989)[1][2] was the lover and later wife of Samuel Beckett.

In the 1930s, Beckett chose Déchevaux-Dumesnil as his lover over the heiress Peggy Guggenheim. Six years older than Beckett, Déchevaux-Dumesnil was an austere woman known for avant-garde tastes and left-wing politics. She was a pianist.[3]

During the Second World War, Beckett joined the French Resistance. For over two years, he and Déchevaux-Dumesnil hid from the Germans in a village in the South of France.[4]

Beckett's Waiting for Godot has been called "a metaphor for the long walk into Roussillon, when Beckett and Suzanne slept in haystacks... during the day and walked by night..."[5]

During the relationship between Beckett and Déchevaux-Dumesnil, which lasted more than 50 years, she maintained a private circle of friends and is credited with having influenced Beckett to produce more work.

During the late 1950s, Beckett often stayed in London, where he met Barbara Bray, a BBC script-editor, a widow in her 30s. James Knowlson writes of them: "Beckett seems to have been immediately attracted to her and she to him. Their encounter was highly significant for them both, for it represented the beginning of a relationship that was to last, in parallel with that with Suzanne, for the rest of his life."[6] Soon, their association became "a very intimate and personal one".[7] In a visit to Paris in January 1961, Bray told Beckett she had decided to move there.[8] His response was unusual. In March 1961, he married Déchevaux-Dumesnil in a civil ceremony in Folkestone. On the face of it, this was to make sure that, if he died before her, Déchevaux-Dumesnil would inherit the rights to his work because there was no common-law marriage under French law. He may also have wanted to affirm his loyalty to her.[8] In June 1961, Bray moved to Paris, and despite his recent marriage, Beckett spent much of his time with her.[9] This side of his life was not well known, as Beckett’s reserve was "allied to his fear of giving offence to Suzanne".[10] Beckett's play Play (1963) seems to be inspired by these events.

Déchevaux-Dumesnil died at age eighty-eight in July 1989, five months before Beckett. They are interred together in the cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.[2]


  1. ^ Not Deschevaux-Dumesnil, though that spelling mistake is very common. See picture of the Beckett Gravestone at
  2. ^ a b Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil at
  3. ^ "Waiting for love - how the women in Samuel Beckett's life helped to shape him -". Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  4. ^ Context of Happy Days at
  5. ^ Bair, Deirdre, Samuel Beckett: A Biography (London: Vintage, 1990), pp 409, 410
  6. ^ Knowlson, James, Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (London: Bloomsbury, 1996), pp. 458, 459
  7. ^ Cronin, Anthony, Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist (London: Flamingo, 1997), p. 495
  8. ^ a b Knowlson, op. cit, p. 480
  9. ^ Cronin, op. cit., p. 500
  10. ^ Cronin, op. cit., pp. 517-518