Nerval was born in 1808 in Paris to an army surgeon. His mother died when he was two, and his relations with his father were strained. Nerval was first noted for his translation of Part 1 of Goethe's 'Faust' and his friendship with Dumas. He became a member of various literary circles, contributing regularly to journals and periodicals. In 1834, he lost an inheritance from his grandfather in a publishing venture and was in financial distress for the rest of his life. For the next twenty years, Nerval led a life of travel, living at times as a vagabond, working only when essential. He wrote a few plays, none of which were successful. In 1841, he experienced his first fit of madness, and was hospitalized regularly thereafter. He committed suicide by hanging himself from a lamp post in 1855.