8th December 1954

Photographer Claude Cahun dies in St Helier

Born in Nantes in 1894, Claude Cahun was a French photographer and sculptor, much of whose work challenges traditional concepts of gender. Although born female and named Lucy Schwob by her parents, she identified as gender neutral.

She was educated in Surrey and at the Sorbonne in Paris before taking up the self-portrait photography that would dominate the rest of her artistic life. In 1937 she moved to Jersey with her step-sister and partner Marcel Moore.

Active in the Resistance

Although born to a Jewish family, they remained throughout the occupation during which they actively engaged in resistance activities. As part of this, they produced anti-German fliers and copied out BBC reports which they slipped into German soldiers’ pockets. This led to their arrest, trial, and conviction. Both were sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out before the island was liberated.

She is buried in St Brelade’s churchyard where she shares a grave with Moore, who died in 1972. The names on their gravestone are those they were given at birth: Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob and Suzanne Alberte Malherbe.


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