Odile Ayral-Clause grew up in Le Havre, France, but moved to the United States when she married an American. She subsequently received a Ph.D in French literature from the University of Colorado, and went on to teach French language and literature at California Polytechnic State University. She lives in San Luis Obispo, California, with her husband, photographer Gary Dwyer.
Odile Ayral-Clause’s passionate interest for the fin de siècle sculptor Camille Claudel began in 1982 when she read an article on the artist in Le Monde. Camille Claudel was mostly unknown at that time but, in France, she soon became “the great discovery” of the eighties. Books, exhibitions, even a film followed. By the early nineties, Odile Ayral-Clause was concerned that biographies on Claudel did not take into account the conditions and circumstances of the late-nineteenth-century and that Claudel’s illness was generally accepted as the consequence of an unfortunate love affair with Rodin. The author decided to write a biography on Claudel that would dispel the myths still attached to this great artist, establish her position in the context of the late-nineteenth-century Paris art world, underline the complex issues which led to her illness, and—for the first time—recount the last thirty years of her life in asylums.
Camille Claudel: A Life was published by Abrams in 2002. When French publisher Hazan showed interest for this biography, the author wrote it again, this time in French. Camille Claudel: sa vie was published in 2008 by Hazan.
Odile Ayral-Clause discovered the young poet Sabine Sicaud by chance. Ayral-Clause was looking for a novel in the university library when she found Robert Sabatier’s La Poésie du Vingtième Siècle. She took it, sat down on the floor, and the book opened on the poems of a child. Intrigued, she started reading and was deeply moved by this discovery. She wanted to find out more on this true poet, who had died at fifteen and was still unknown. This was the beginning of an adventure that led her to strike up a friendship with the last people who had known Sabine’s relatives.
The resulting book, Sabine Sicaud: le rêve inachevé, was published in France in 1996. A new bilingual edition of Sabine’s poems, introduced by Odile Ayral-Clause and translated into English by Norman R. Shapiro, To Speak, to Tell You? was published in 2009 by Black Widow Press.
To contact her, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org