Gautier was born in Tarbes, south western France, to a junior government official. The
family moved to Paris in 1814 where Gautier began school, and, under the guidance of his
father, became a latin scholar. Gautier formed a friendship with Gérard de Nerval who
introduced him to Victor Hugo and his works which encouraged him away from his first
inclinations as an artist towards developing his literary ambitions. From 1830, he made
the acquaintance of several leading literary figures whilst inclining towards a
Although he wrote numerous works of poetry throughout his life, his main income was derived
from journalism. He began a journalistic career by contributing numerous articles to
La Presse but he also wrote several travel books during the following decades inspired
by his widespread travels in Europe and North Africa. He was awarded the Legion d'honneur
in 1842 and was raised to Officier therein in 1858. He married the singer Ernesta Grisi
in 1844 who bore him two daughters.
He was a highly productive writer during the 1848 revolution and became associated with
the second Empire when he accepted the position of librarian to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte.
He wrote numerous art criticisms and developed a passion for ballet incuding scenarios for
Giselle and Le Peri but also wrote short stories, novels and plays to no great acclaim.
He, nonetheless, enjoyed literary fame as a result of his journalism, travelogues and poetry
until his death in Paris from heart failure.