Gala Dali (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova), the love of his life, was born in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. He father left them when she was little: here mother was left alone with 4 kids: two boys and two girls. In 1905 rumor had it that their father died poor somewhere in Siberia.
The family moved to Moscow where their mother met a rich lawyer and moved in with him. So the stepfather not only supported them financially, but raised them as his own children. The impact of her stepfather was so big, that Elena even took his name as a patronym (Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova). But now she is known as Elena Ivanovna Diakonova (her original name).
Her mother always called her Galya, this is why she became widely known as Gala. In French ‘gala’ means festival, celebration.
Her whole life she had health issues – tuberculosis. When she was 17 she had quit studying and go to Switzerland to take a course of treatment. In one of the clinics she met her future husband – a French poet Paul Éluard. He fell in love with the Russian girl. She inspired him, helped him to write and improved his writings before he sent them to the editors office. She could be both: a muse and a business woman.
In April of 1914 she came back to Russia. The same year a war started. This war was meant to become the First World War. Paul Éluard was a weak and ill person, this is why he had to stay and not go to war. All this time he and Gala kept in touch and eventually they decided to get married. In 1916 Gala went to France to get married. She was planning on becoming a translator or an interpreter.
In February of 1917 Paul Éluard and Gala got married. Paul was mobilized and Gala had to stay and live in the house of her husband’s parents. It turned out that she didn’t have enough skills to work as an interpreter but she didn’t know anything else and didn’t want to do anything else.
She didn’t know how to do the work around the house and kept fighting with her mother-in-law all the time. Probably that was the reason she desperately wanted to live in her own little house. In 1918 she had a daughter – Cécile. Cécile made Paul very happy but she was a burden for her mother. Gala didn’t treat her daughter kindly. She was already married to Dali (who was 11 years younger) when Cécile came to her house. She just slammed the door in her face.
Gala left Paul for Dali. She was 36, Dali was 25. What he felt about her was passion. She didn’t love him the way he did. She was very patient with him, helped him in his work, and treated him the way she was supposed to treat her child. But eventually they drifted apart; Dali bought her the castle and was allowed to visit her only with her permission.