The Life and Exile of Marie Vieux Chauvet

Hi friends, how do you fancy a little trip to Haiti? A virtual, female playwright, one of course. Via Marie Vieux Chauvet: writer and dissident.

💜 Began writing dramatic sketches for her family and friends when she was a child.
💚 Studied at l’Annexe de l’École Normale d’Institutrices, where she graduated in 1933 with a degree in elementary education.
💜 In her personal life she married three times. Her first husband was a doctor, Aymon Charlier, they divorced. Her second husband was a travel agent, Pierre Chauvet. After she moved to New York, she married again.
💚 Also wrote under the pen names Colibri and Marie Vieux.
💜 Her first published work was the play ‘La Légende des Fleurs’ in 1947. It was reprinted in 2009.
💚 Her second play, ‘Samba’, was produced in 1948. It went unpublished.
💜 She was also a poet and novelist. Following the rise of François Duvalier in 1957, Vieux Chauvet’s work became controversial and she worked under heavy surveillance.

Fear is a vice that takes root. Once it is cultivated it takes time to heal from it. - Love, Anger, Madness. Click To Tweet

💚 Despite this she hosted meetings of the Les Araignées du Soir (Evening Spiders) which was a group of writers and poets where she was the only woman.
💜 Her most famous work, the trilogy ‘Amour, Colère, Folie’ (Love, Anger, Madness) of 1968 had to be sent to Paris to be published where it found support from Simone de Beauvoir.
💚 The dictator saw it as an attack. Having already lost three family members to the regime, Vieux Chauvet persuaded Gallimard, the publisher, to withdraw the book to avoid retaliation. Her husband bought all the copies he could find in Haiti. Later, after her death, her daughter bought the rest from publisher.
💜 She then went into exile in New York where she worked as a housekeeper until her death, in relative poverty, in 1973.

Wait… but there’s more …
💚 ‘Amour, Colère, Folie’ was thought to be lost, until an pirated copy emerged in thirty years after her death. It was officially published two years later, in 2005. In 2009 it was translated into English as ‘Love, Anger, Madness’.
💜 ‘Amour’ and ‘Colére’ were adapted for the stage in Guadalupe at L’Artchipel in 2008 with a production of ‘Folie’ appearing the next year.

💚 While most of her work was in novel form much of her prose was written as dramatic dialogue. ‘Anger’ in particular has the structure and feeling of a Greek tragedy. She is remembered as being a seminal writer of post-occupational Haiti.

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HER FULL STATS: Born on 16th September, 1916 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Died on 19th June, 1973 in New York City.

📸: © Haitian writer Anthony Phelps.

YouTube Playlist:

And here’s another curated video playlist. As always, I do not own the copyright to any of these, they are simply gathered here for ease of viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Haitian Women of History | Marie Vieux Chauvet | Episode 8
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Further Reading:

The Nation

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Biography of Haitian female playwright Marie Vieux Chauvet by Hedda House
Biography of Haitian female playwright Marie Vieux Chauvet by Hedda House

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