Leonard Norman Cohen was born into a middle-class Jewish family in a Montreal, Canada
on 21st September 1934. From a young age he studied music and poetry and, even before
attending McGill University in 1951 to study English, was already performing his poems in
various clubs round Little Portugal.
In 1954 Cohen had his poemspublished in the short-lived but hugely influential ‘CIV/n’
magazine beforepublishing his first book of poetry, ‘Let us Compare Mythologies’, in
1956. When he graduated at Columbia University, New York, in 1957 he moved back to
Montreal where he undertook menial work to support his writing. Cohen was able to
supplement this with money from his father’s will who died when he was nine-indeed,
his first book is dedicated to his late father.
In 1967 Cohen moved back to New York where he was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol’s
‘Factory’ scene. His song ‘Suzanne’ became a hit for folk singer Judy Collins which courted
the attention Columbia records.
Cohen having a drink, circa 1960. Photograph: Roz Kelly/Getty Images
On stage at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970. Photograph: Tony Russell/Redferns
Leonard Cohen during his participation in the
Festival of the Isle of Wight in United
Kingdom. TONY RUSSEL/REDFERNS
Performing at the Musikhalle in Hamburg in 1970.
Photograph: K&K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns
Surrounded by members of the audience in Hamburg. Photograph: K&K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns
In Amsterdam in 1972.
Leonard Cohen in April 1972 in Amsterdam,
Netherlands.. GAB Archive/Getty Images
In Amsterdam in 1972. Photograph: Gijsbert