Marcel Proust’s secret letters to gay lovers surface at auction

Pile of documents and letters

Intimate letters from renowned novelist Marcel Proust to his male lovers have surfaced for the first time, as they were sold at auction.

The French writer, best known for his novel In Search of Lost Time,  never openly admitted to his sexuality in his lifetime – but is now widely accepted to have been gay or bisexual.

Items relating to the author, who died in 1922, were sold at an auction this week by his great-grandniece – including revealing personal love letters to some of his male lovers.

The lot included a lone surviving copy of a 1896 photograph of Proust with lovers Lucien Daudet and Robert de Flers.
Marcel Proust’s secret letters to gay lovers surface at auction
At the time, Proust’s mother had insisted that all copies of the photograph be destroyed due to its supposedly suggestive nature.

In addition, some of the letters have remained strictly censored by Proust’s family for more than 100 years, with their content made public for the first time today.

Benôit Puttemans from Sotheby’s explained that previous collections of Proust’s works had “only published the very beginning of the letters, in which he discusses literature, but censored the rest because the family were against its homosexual content”.

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In one letter to pianist Reynaldo Hahn, Proust lauded him as “the person who, besides mummy, I love most of all in the world.”

The Sotheby’s auction raised more than £930,000 from more than 120 items from his personal archive.