Even though Cocteau was active in several areas, he found that he was in the first place was closer and all his work was poetry , be it a novel, a film, a play or a painting was. He was one of the most important people within the surrealism. His work was a major influence on many artists, among them the famous Les Six-composers. His most famous works are the book Les Enfants terribles (1929), the stage play Les parents terribles and the film La Belle et la Bête (1945).
Cocteau was born in 1889 in a bourgeois family. From 1908 he was a welcome guest in many artistic circles. In 1917, a Parade came from avant-gardeballet of Cocteau, for which among others Pablo Picasso designed the props and costumes and Erik Satie composed the music. In the program booklet of Guillaume Apollinaire to describe, to the ballet was, for the first time used the word surréaliste . The ballet was not a great success, but established the name of Cocteau in the avant-garde of Paris.
In 1920 a relationship with the writer in the making got Cocteau Raymond Radiguet, then 17 years old. Cocteau was openly bisexual. After Radiguet released Le Diable au corps , followed a period of productivity for Cocteau. This stopped in 1923, when Radiguet died of typhoid fever. Cocteau became addicted to opium in the period after.
In 1926 he released "Le rappel à l'ordre" , a book of essays. The book describes the renewed interest for traditions in the period after the first world war. The name of the art movement "Return to order" is here derived later. This movement was a reaction to the war and resisted the extreme avant-garde art of the years up to 1918 and took instead the inspiration from the more traditional art.
In 1929 he wrote his most famous work, Les Enfants terribles, and he made his first film, Le Sang d'un Poète. Next, he is less controversial pieces and he wrote plays for the established order. He got a relationship with French actor Jean Marais and gave him a role in his play Les Parents Terribles.
From the 1940s made Cocteau, under the influence of Marais, showing films, including La Belle et la Bête (beauty and the beast), based on the famous children's story ofJeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. He also wrote in 1940 the hugely successful play Le Bel Indifférent for Édith Piaf, with whom he was very close friends. In 1949 , he made his most important movie, Orphée, based on his own piece from 1926.
In 1955 , he became a member of the Académie française and the Académie royale de langue et de littérature françaises de Belgique. He was also awarded the Légion d'honneur .
Jean Cocteau died on October 11, 1963, the day after his girlfriend Édith Piaf died. He is 74 years old.
The House of Cocteau in Milly-la-Forêt is purchased by the Government, on the initiative of a Committee that wants to keep alive the memory of him. It is in 2010 as Cocteau museum.