When Hergé died in 1983, leukaemia was cited as the probable cause. Near the end of his life, the creator of Tintin had contracted numerous and recurring infections, which later proved to be fatal. According to Philippe Goddin, Hergé’s official biographer, there is no doubt that the cause of Hergé’s death was HIV. Goddin is quoted in an article in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir yesterday.
Goddin, who previously was the secretary of the Fondation Hergé, and is currently preparing the final, official biography of Georges Rémi, alias Hergé. He states that Hergé’s infections were in no way connected to his medical history. This leads him to conclude that an infection by the HIV-virus resulted in numerous other infections with the flu, pneumonia and bronchitis which later proved to be fatal. Hergé probably contracted the disease during one of the blood transfusions he was subjected to near the end of his life. Since HIV was still not as well-known at the time as it is today, the blood that was used during these procedures probably was not sufficiently screened.
(Hergé at his drawing table in happier times)
This theory had already been hinted at before by previous biographers, most notably Pierre Assouline and Benoit Peeters. This time, however, it is confirmed by the official biographer, who is also the author of the Chronologie d’une oeuvre and one of the most notable experts in Hergé’s work. Goddin’s biography, due for publication in October, will probably prove to be quite an interesting read, as he asserts that he wants to draw a complete, unbiased and tolerant portrait of the maître. One of the more controversial aspects, Hergé’s actions during World War II, when Tintin was published in the collaborative press, will be dealt with extensively.
(The FPI crew also wish Wim a belated many happy returns on turning 40 recently – thankfully before I do, which makes me feel better! Wim has used this landmark birthday as a prompt to post 40 interesting articles looking back at comics on The Ephemerist, so do go and have a look – Joe)