Obituary – Harold Chapman

The EBSN is sad to note the passing of Harold Chapman on August 19, at the age of 95. Although his years in Paris during the late 1950s and early 60s were just one episode in a long life and career, the EBSN has since its founding been proud to use one of his pictures for its masthead because the British photographer chronicled so memorably life at the Beat Hotel, that special site of expatriate engagement with Europe. His images preserved a unique record of the scene when 9 Gît-le-cœur was the lowest class of hotel in Paris and a landmark in Beat history, home, on and off, to Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Ian Sommerville, Sinclair Beiles and Harold Norse. Chapman’s black and white photographs were for me, and no doubt many, many others, one of the great seductive ports of entry into those years of experiments in living and creating, when for a few francs a week anything seemed possible. Burroughs expressed it perfectly in his foreword to the book of Chapman’s Beat Hotel pictures: “It was a magical interlude, and like all such interludes, all too brief.”

-Oliver Harris

For a 2009 tribute, see “Capturing the beat of 1950s Paris” by Christine Finn:

This entry was posted in news, Obituaries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.