Apollinaire was born Wilhelm Albert Wlodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki in Rome. His mother was
a polish subject of noble lineage but his father is unknown and abandoned the family when Guillaume
was very young.
Apollinaire spoke several languages and spent a short while in Belgium but moved to Paris in 1898
where he was employed as a bank clerk.
He became companion and tutor to a German family in 1901- 1902 and travelled with them through
the Rhineland and Black Forest regions.
He founded the revue Le Festin d'esope and later became art critic of Le Petit Bleu in 1912. He
published Alcools in 1909, noted for its lack of punctuation, and, aided by his ebullient personality,
formed several friendships among the artistic community where he numbered leading figures of the
literary and artistic world within his circle. He supported them with sympathetic articles and wrote
the introductory preface to a Cubist exhibition in Brussels.
On account of his friendship with the thief, he was wrongly suspected of participation in the theft
of the Mona Lisa in 1911 but was released from custody after one week.
In 1914, he became a naturalized French citizen and enlisted in an artillery division of the French
army later transferring to an infantry regiment. He was invalided out in 1916, however, after
suffering a severe shrapnel wound to the head and a temporary partial paralysis which conspired
to impose a change of his personality into morbid introspection.
He was able to write several works during his convalescence, however, including plays. He also
married Jacqueline Kolbi but he contracted a fatal attack of influenza during the epidemic of 1918.