Henry Murger was the author of the
work that for many people defines Bohemianism, but in his personal
life he left the Bohemian life for bourgeois stability and wealth.
Murger, born in 1822 in Paris to a tailor
and his wife, began as a poet but gradually shifted to writing
prose. As a youth he lived with friends in extreme poverty in
an attic apartment; the group called themselves the Water-Drinkers
because they couldn't afford any other beverages (Easton
112). Like Rodolphe in Scenes de
la Vie de Boheme, he edited a magazine about the hat-making
industry before joining the literary magazine Corsaire,
in which he published a series of character sketches romanticizing
the Water-Drinkers' lives. These began to be published in 1846.
Henry Murger, glorifier
of Bohemian life, in this sketch by Montader.
Though the character sketches received
little notice, a playwright, Theodore Barriere, approached Murger
about turning them into a stage play. The two co-authored the
new work, entitled La Vie de Boheme, which premiered at
the Varietes at the end of 1849. It produced a sensation; suddenly
Murger was quite famous and wealthy. He moved out of the Latin
Quarter to a cottage on the outskirts of the city and continued
to produce works based on his Bohemian friends until his death
in 1861. One of these was a collection of the newspaper columns,
revised to give greater unity: Scenes de la Vie de Boheme,
published in 1851 and immidiately followed by a sequel called
Scenes de la Vie de Jeunesse.
Murger published several more books, but
never again met with the same popular acclaim. He died only 10
years after the publication of Scenes; his dying words were "No
more music! No more alarums! No more Bohemia!" (Easton 152).