Léon Losseau and the Foundation
Léon Losseau was born in Thulin in 1896 to a family of fortunate means. Losseau studied at the University of Liège and became a Doctor of Laws as well as of Political Science. He became a member of the Bar of Mons but finally would defend very few cases, as he devoted himself more to his intellectual activities and multiple passions. Out of his many interests, his love for books led him to create a library of over 100.000 works.
Photography is another activity that Losseau loved particularly. He had a photography laboratory installed in the cellars of his house and acquired sophisticated material.
The Montois lawyer was an active member of many scholarly and artistic societies. To such a point that he had developed his home into a centre for intellectual, scientific and artistic development. He wrote many contributions for the press and specialized magazines. He worked for the creation of a university of Le Hainaut as well as a court of appeals. They were built after his death.
During his life, he organised numerous receptions within his home: ceremonies, balls, illustrious conferences. Among his contemporaries, Losseau formed faithful ties with many figures from the intellectual world of the time. Among them, Raoul Warcoqué, but also Paul Otlet to whom we owe the invention of the Universal Decimal Classification, which is still used by Universal Bibliographic Repertory today.
They were conviced that knowledge led to peace, and that grouping all human knowledge into one universal bibliography accessible to all, accross borders and languages, showed their humanitarian goals.
If his library comprised mainly judicial works, Losseau will always be associated with literature and more precisely, with poetry, thanks to his discovery of the original edition of Une Saison en enfer (A Season in Hell, in English) by Arthur Rimbaud in 1901, a piece that was believed to have been destroyed.
Before his death, Losseau wished for the work of his life – his house – to survive him. A Foundation was created in 1952, to date is the owner of the properties.
This Foundation has entrusted the management of this precious heritage site to the Province of Hainaut which has set up its Literature department there and has developed an ambitious programme of tourist and cultural programmes. Themed tours in several languages, meetings and activities for literature lovers, conferences, exhibitions often linked to the heritage which Léon Losseau has left us pepper our calendar.