Stanley Loomis
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Stanley Loomis
Stanley Loomis
Born21 December 1922
New York City, New York, United States
Died19 December 1972(1972-12-19) (aged 49)
Paris, France
EducationColumbia University (AB)
SubjectFrench history
Notable worksParis in the Terror

Stanley Loomis (21 December 1922 – 19 December 1972) was the author of four books on French history: Du Barry (1959), Paris in the Terror (1964), A Crime of Passion (1967), and The Fatal Friendship (1972). Paris in the Terror was named one of the "books of the century" by the University of California, Berkeley. His books have been published in eight languages and reprinted numerous times.[1]


Stanley Pennock Loomis was born in New York City in 1922, the eldest of three sons of an industrial chemist and businessman, Chauncey C. Loomis, and his wife Elizabeth (née McLanahan). He grew up in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and attended the Lenox School in Lenox, Massachusetts.

He studied English at Columbia University, but his studies were interrupted by the war. He was trained in Japanese interpretation and served as a translator and intelligence officer in the Pacific. He was in Japan at the time of the Japanese surrender in 1945.

According to his obituary in the New York Times, his "interest in French literature began when he was a soldier in World War II. Between air raids on Okinawa, he read the 18th-century memoirs of the Duc de St. Simon."[2]

He returned to Columbia after the war and completed his B.A. in 1948. and obtained an additional M.A. in English.[3] After graduating, he spent three years in France. Before settling into a writing career, he pursued a number of interests, including "working for a publisher, studying international trade in Arizona, even buying and selling a few paintings in Europe."[4]

A biographical note in the Saturday Review states: "He pursued his study of eighteenth-century France in much the same way his sophisticated figures lived their expensive lives: as a highly refined form of entertainment."[5] This "entertainment" became his life's work. He wrote his first book, a biography of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, after returning to the United States. It was published by Lippincott in 1959.

He married Virginia Lindsley Gignoux in 1960[6] and they had a son, Craig Putnam Loomis, in 1961. In 1965, he and his family began to spend the winter months in Paris. They lived first on the Quai Anatole France and later on the rue d'Anjou. He also spent time at the Chateau de Missery in Burgundy, a property belonging to a cousin.

In addition to his books, he wrote occasional articles and book reviews[7] and offered tours to visiting American friends of some of the less-well-known corners of Paris and France.

He died in the American Hospital of Paris on December 19, 1972 after being hit by a car on the Place de la Concorde, just two days before what would have been his 50th birthday. Memorial services were held at the American Cathedral in Paris and in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.[8] His family returned to the United States after his death.


Du Barry (1959): a story "told with brilliance and an admirable sense for comedy. Her later years are, fittingly enough, related in a more mellow, nostalgic key...Entertained at first, then moved, the reader, after the admirable final paragraph, is left pensive. Few books are published of which this could be said."[9]

Paris in the Terror (1964): "Stanley Loomis describes massacres, conspiracies and confrontations with eloquence and power. He is fascinating in his remarks about the plight of the impoverished rural nobility, 'pedigreed peasants,' about the homicidal mania of Marat and his followers, about the clash of personalities in the shadow of the guillotine. And he regularly drops wise, cynical or provocative remarks." [10]ISBN 0-88029-401-9

A Crime of Passion (1967): "As a historian, Mr. Loomis has reconstructed for us an impeccable period piece and he has been artful, depositing his poisoned knowledge sparingly here and there, in bringing his story to a flood: the technique of 'The Turn of the Screw.'"[11]ISBN 0-340-04474-8

The Fatal Friendship (1972): "The hallmark of his writing, in this as in his previous book on Paris during the Terror, is fairness. He never stretches a fact to suit a thesis. He never chooses among conflicting interpretations the one that will best advance his narrative... These qualities of measure and restraint contribute to the persuasiveness of his account."[12]ISBN 0-931933-33-1


  1. ^ World Catalogue
  2. ^ "Stanley Loomis, Writer, 49, Dead," New York Times, December 22, 1972
  3. ^ "Columbia College Today". Internet Archive. Summer 1964. p. 214. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Jeanette Wakin, "The Author," Saturday Review, April 11, 1959, p. 25
  5. ^ Jeanette Wakin, "The Author," Saturday Review, April 11, 1959, p. 25
  6. ^ "Mrs. Virginia Gignoux Wed to Stanley Loomis," New York Times, March 2, 1960
  7. ^ See, for example, "Eaglet with untried wings," Saturday Review, June 25, 1960, p. 18, or "The Bastille and All That," New York Times, March 26, 1967
  8. ^ "Stanley Loomis, Writer, 49, Dead," New York Times, December 22, 1972
  9. ^ J. Christopher Herold, "She Lived for Love, Luxury and Louis," Saturday Review, April 11, 1959, p. 42
  10. ^ Review by Orville Prescott, New York Times, March 16, 1964, p. 29
  11. ^ Review by Betty Kelen, New York Times, July 9, 1967, p. 201.
  12. ^ Review by Sanche de Gramont, New York Times, April 16, 1972, p. BR10

External links

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