Bernard Esdras-Gosse, a journalist, man of letters and artist based in Le Havre, was born in Montivilliers on 20 February 1903. Over the course of his life, which was rich in literary and artistic encounters, he assembled a collection of 'Témoignages' (life experiences), meticulously bound in 48 volumes, which were donated to the municipal library in 2006.
Appearing as a backdrop in these documents are the Spanish Civil War, the life of prisoners during the Second World War and the reconstruction of Le Havre, as well as the life of a writer, poet, painter, journalist and art critic. Letters, manuscripts, photographs, menus, dedications and engravings form a very rich body of work which conjure up the Le Havre of the XX century and Esdras-Gosse's relationships with other artists and writers. In 66 other volumes, he also gathered together the press articles which he wrote under the titles 'Feuillets divers', 'Le Havre et sa reconstruction' and 'Critique'.
These volumes feature his correspondence with Max Jacob, Kees Van Dongen, Anna de Noailles, Colette, Francis Carco, Georges Duhamel, Jean Cocteau, Raoul Dufy, Armand Salacrou, Julien Guillemard and André Chardine, as well as drawings by Jean Dubuffet, Carzou, Reynold Arnould, Mathieu, Richard Le Cieux, Albert Copieux, Will, and Marcel Aubert.
When Bernard Esdras-Gosse died on 8 November 1962, his widow expressed her wish to donate the 'Témoignages' collection to the town of Le Havre, an offer which the town's mayor, Robert Monguillon, accepted on 14 January 1963.
His executors fulfilled her wish in 2006, donating to the municipal library the 48 volumes of 'Témoignages' and the 66 volumes of press articles, as well as ten portfolios of photographs featuring views of Le Havre in 1944. This complex collection is in the process of being catalogued.