"If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but
what he re-reads." - Francois Mauriac
François Mauriac (1885-1970), born in Bordeaux, France, is considered one of
the greatest Roman Catholic writers of the 20th century. His father, a banker,
died when he was eighteen months old, leaving his mother with five children, of
which he was the youngest. He studied literature at Bordeaux and Paris but soon
became an independent writer. His first poems were published in 1909 but he did
not come to prominence until the publication of Le Baiser aux lepreux (A
Kiss for the Leper) in 1922. He is best remembered for Thérèse Desqueyroux (1927).
During World War I he served in the Balkans as a Red Cross hospital orderly.
In the Second World War he lived in occupied territory at his estate in Malagar
and in Paris, where he published Le Cahier noir (The Black Notebook)
under the pseudonym Forez. After the war de Gaulle made him a Grand Officer of
the Legion of Honour. He was elected to the Académie Française in 1933, and in
1952 won the Nobel Prize in Literature; he was also awarded the Grand Cross of
the Légion d'honneur in 1958.
In addition to his novels he published several plays which were produced by
the Comédie Française. He was also a journalist and editorial writer for the
French newspaper, Figaro. During the 1950s he championed Algerian
independence, as well as an end to French colonialism in Vietnam. He also
encouraged Elie Wiesel to write about his experiences during the Holocaust.