Theophile Gautier (1811--1872) was a poet, novelist, art critic, and one of the most prominent French Romantic writers of the nineteenth century. He originally studied as a painter but his friendship with Nerval and Hugo turned him toward a career in literature. By his twenties he had become a leading figure in the Jeune-France group, and the publication of "Mademoiselle de Maupin "in 1836 placed him at the heart of the Parisian literary world. Apart from his weekly journalist contributions to "La Presse "for twenty years, he worked on comedies, pantomimes, ballet scenarios, and produced novels, stories, and travel books. Richard Holmes is the author of "Shelley: The Pursuit," for which he won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1974; "Dr Johnson and Mr. Savage," which won the 1993 James Tait Black Prize; and "Coleridge: Early Visions," winner of the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1992. He lives in London and Norwich with the novelist Rose Tremain. He is also a professor of biographical studies at the University of East Anglia.