In the 1930s, Beckett, an avid tennis fan his whole life, 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.
During the relationship between Beckett and Déchevaux-Dumesnil, which lasted more than fifty 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 thirties. 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." Soon, their association became "a very intimate and personal one". In a visit to Paris in January 1961, Bray told Beckett she had decided to move there. 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, since there was no common-law marriage under French law. He may also have wanted to affirm his loyalty to her. In June 1961, Bray moved to Paris, and despite his recent marriage Beckett spent much of his time with her. This side of his life was not well known, as Beckett’s reserve was "allied to his fear of giving offence to Suzanne". Beckett's play Play (1963) seems to be inspired by these events.
- Not Deschevaux-Dumesnil, though that spelling mistake is very common. See picture of the Beckett Gravestone at http://www.samuel-beckett.net/samgrave.jpg
- Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil at findagrave.com
- Context of Happy Days at sparknotes.com
- Bair, Deirdre, Samuel Beckett: A Biography (London: Vintage, 1990), pp 409, 410
- Knowlson, James, Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (London: Bloomsbury, 1996), pp. 458, 459
- Cronin, Anthony, Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist (London: Flamingo, 1997), p. 495
- Knowlson, op. cit, p. 480
- Cronin, op. cit., p. 500
- Cronin, op. cit., pp. 517-518