Eluard was born to a lower-middle-class family in Saint Denis, Paris. His father was a bookkeeper, his mother, helped out with the household income by making dresses. At the age of 16 Paul was sent to a Swiss sanatorium for tuberculosis, during this time he became highly interested in poetry. Upon his return to France he joined the army and was injured from exposure to toxic gas. After his war experience, year 1917, he released what is considered to be his first noteworthy poetry volume.
Eluard was briefly involved with the Dada Movement, meeting Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, and other member of surrealist and Dadaist circles. Like Breton, Aragon, Peret, Soupault and other intellectuals. His reputation as a poet was established with the publication of "Capitale de la Doluer ' in 1926.
In 1924 Paul's whereabouts vanished from public knowledge. Rumors that he had died, spread around and became truth, until after seven months he returned. Eluard told the people that he had journeyed from Marseilles to Tahiti, Indonesia, and Ceylon. Later on it was discovered that it was connected with the loss of his wife Gala to the surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
Eluard was active within the international communist movement in the cultural field. He traveled in Britain, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and Russia, but not the United States; because he was refused a visa as he was a Communist.
Paul's idealism, kindness and inability to see the reality of the Soviet Union led the poet to admire Stalin as a cultural force for good. According to Eluard, the mission of poetry was to renew language in order to effect radical changes in all areas of existence. He saw poetry as an action capable of arousing awareness in his readers, and identified with the leftist struggle for political, social and sexual liberation.
During his lifetime Paul managed to publish over seventy books consisting of; poetry, literary, and political views. Eluard died in Charenton-le-Pont in 1952.