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This article was submitted to the Maigret Forum

The Date of Georges Simenon's Birth
5/11/03 – This has always been an interesting point, so here are some factors in the situation.

 
Reference 1: Mathieu Rutten: Simenon, ses origines, sa vie, son œuvre. Eugène Wahle Éditeur, Nandrin 1986. A very detailed book which is Professor Rutten's research into the Simenon and Brüll families going back through ten generations, using parish and other records.

Page 5.
…Georges Simenon, né à Liège, Thursday 12-2-1903. Une tradition familiale, à laquelle Simenon est très sensible, situe cette naissance le vendredi 13-2-1903, date qui aurait été, par superstition, rejetée par sa mère. …Georges Simenon, born in Liège, Thursday 12-2-1903. A family tradition, to which Simenon is very sensitive, cites this birth as Friday 13-2-1903, a date which would have been, out of superstition, rejected by his mother.
Page 325, note 1.
Reproduction de l'acte de naissance de Georges Simenon N° 414, État Civil, Ville de Liège: naissance, le 12-2-1903, "à onze heures et demie du soir"; déclaration par le père, le 13-2-1903 "à deux heures de relevée". Copy of the birth certificate of Georges Simenon, N° 414, Registry Office, the town of Liège: born the 12-2-1903, "at half past eleven in the evening"; declaration by the father, the 13-2-1903 "at two o'clock in the afternoon".

 
Reference 2: Pierre Deligny: Jalons Chronobiographiques. Tout Simenon, Volume 27,Collection Omnibus, 1993. Pages 1522 to 1552. A synopsis, by year, of Simenon's life and work by a long-time researcher and friend of the author.

Page 1520 (under 1903).
Vendredi 13 février, peu après minuit: naissance, au 26 (auj. 24) de la rue Léopold à Liège, 2e étage, au-dessus de la chappellerie Cession-Denoël, de Georges Joseph Christian Simenon, premier fils des époux Simenon. Mais Henriette est superstitieuse et ce "Vendredi 13" lui semble de mauvais augure: aussi, à l'état civil de la Ville de Liège et sur déclaration du père, l'acte de naissance porte-t-il que Georges est né "à Liège, rue Léopold, 26, le 12 février 1903 à onze heure et demie du soir". Friday 13 February, a little after midnight: the birth, at 26 (today 24) Rue Léopold in Liège, 2nd floor, above the hatter Cession-Denoël, of Georges Joseph Christian Simenon, first son of the Simenon couple. But Henriette is superstitious and this "Friday the 13th seems to her an ill omen: so, at the Registry Office in the town of Liège and on the declaration of the father, the birth certificate shows that Georges is born "in Liège, Rue Léopold, 26, the 12th February 1903 at half past eleven in the evening".

 
Reference 3. Carnet de Mariage des parents (Private Collection). This was the Book of the Marriage that the Simenons kept from the time of their marriage in April 1902 and was used to record major family events such as the birth of their two sons. Under Children, there is the first entry as:

Georges Joseph Christian, né à Liège, 12 février 1903, N° 414.Georges Joseph Christian, born at Liège, 12 February 1903, N° 414.

 
Reference 4. The commemorative plaque next to the door of N° 24, Rue Léopold in Liège (unveiled 17 May 1975). This plaque states:

ICI EST NE
LE 13 FEVRIER 1903
LE CELEBRE ECRIVAIN
GEORGES SIMENON
CREATEUR DU COMMISSAIRE MAIGRET
HERE WAS BORN
THE 13 FEBRUARY 1903
THE CELEBRATED WRITER
GEORGES SIMENON
CREATOR OF COMMISSAIRE MAIGRET

 
So there is a choice of date, depending on whether the information on the birth certificate is followed or Simenon's own point of view. Of the four biographers, Fenton Bresler (1983), Stanley G. Eskin (1987) and Pierre Assouline (1992, French edition), give the date of Simenon's birth as the 13th of February with an brief explanation as to why the 12th is on the birth certificate, whereas Patrick Marnham (1992) gives the 12th in his chronology on page xi, with an explanation concerning the 13th on page 10. In a footnote on the same page, Marnham states that at some time Simenon was told by his father that his birthday was the 13th. Most references seem to favour the thirteenth, as in the case of the opening of events in Liège and elsewhere.

Peter Foord
UK

 

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