William Fifield

The American writer William Fifield (1916–1987) conducted significant interviews for The Paris Review. His conversation with Jean Cocteau (“The Art of Fiction No. 34”) appeared in the Summer–Fall 1964 issue of the magazine. Parts of this conversation appear on the recording Jean Cocteau: A Self-Portrait, A Conversation with William Fifield in French. He also published Jean Cocteau par Jean Cocteau, a book-length version of the interview, and Jean Cocteau, a monograph in the Columbia Essays on Modern Writers series.

The same issue included his conversations with Picasso, under the title “Pablo Picasso: A Composite Interview,” which features a discussion by Cocteau of Picasso’s creative method. His second interview with Picasso, “Picasso Indian Summer,” appeared in the Fall 1968 issue.

Fifield’s interview with Robert Graves (“The Art of Poetry No. 11”) was published in The Paris Review’s Summer 1969 issue. He first met Graves in the Balearic Islands, where they both lived for many years.

Caedmon Records released Fifield’s recorded conversations with Jean Cocteau and Marcel Marceau, and both recordings are available at the Times Two Publishing Company, which is reissuing the author’s work in a digital archive.

The winner of an O. Henry Award, Fifield published the short story “Summerhill Madhouse” in the Spring–Summer 1957 volume of The Paris Review. He also wrote for Suspense, Lights Out, and other classic radio programs and was the author, with Alexis Lichine, of the Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits. His other works include novels, short stories, essays, a biography of Modigliani, and an illustrated history of the great sherry-making families of Spain.

In 1982, he published In Search of Genius, a book of his conversations with Picasso, Cocteau, Dalí, Graves, and others on the creative process.