Bohemian Identity

Though Bohemia was the counter-culture of 19th Century Paris, the line between Bohemian and Bourgeois was not always a strict one. Many who lived in the world of Bohemia were members of the Bourgeoisie who had given up a comfortable life in order to pursue their dreams of becoming a great writer or artist.

In 19th Century Paris, Bohemia was located nowhere yet found everywhere. Drifters. Writers, artists - the young who had not yet "made it" but were trying to do so in the occupation they loved.
This image shows the Montmartre in the early 1800's. Bohemian artists flocked there because the light was better than from within the city's cramped rooms.

It is nearly impossible to generalize an exact verbal or visual description of what defines "Bohemia" or "Bohemian." The Bohemian Identity is varied and diverse, and the world of bohemia contains many differnt kinds of people who were part of it for many different reasons.

Many bohemians came from families that could get them a job within the mainstream culture, but these men turned these options down in favor of attempting success with something they really loved.

In modern terms, one could argue that the difference between the bohemians and the bourgeoisie was that the bohemians refused to "sell out."

One such person who truly lived and is credited with popularizing the Bohemian identity was Henry Murger.