Jean Genet was born in Paris, France on December 19, 1910. He was an illegitimate child abandoned by his mother, raised by Public Assistance, and sent to live with foster parents at the age of seven. At the age of 10 he was accused of stealing. He spent five years at the Mettray Reformatory and as a young adult spent time in various European prisons for vagrancy, homosexuality, theft, and smuggling. He began writing in 1942, while in prison. His works include Our Lady of the Flowers, Miracle of the Rose, and The Thief's Journal. In 1948, he was convicted of burglary for the 10th time and condemned to automatic life imprisonment. However, by 1947, his works had gained attention from such writers as Jean-Paul Sartre, Andrï¿½ Gide, and Jean Cocteau. After the sentence, they petitioned for his release and a pardon was granted. In the late 1940s, Genet began to write for the theatre, but several of his plays were too controversial to be performed in France. His plays included The Maids, Deathwatch, The Blacks, and The Balcony. He died on April 15, 1986.
Jean Giono was born in France on March 30, 1985. He was an author about whom Germaine Bree and M. Guiton have written, "When Giono's first novel, Colline (Hill of Destiny) appeared in 1929, it struck a fresh, new note. . . . After Proust and Gide, Duhamel and Romains, Cocteau and Giraudoux, what could be more restful than a world of wind and sun and simple men who apparently had never heard of psychological analysis, never confronted any social problems, never read any books. . ." (An Age of Fiction). Raised by his shoemaker father in a small town in the south of France, Giono's fiction has its roots in the peasant life of Provence. Horrified by his experiences in World War I, Giono returned to the world of his youth, which became the world of his imagination. After the shock of World War II, his novels seemed to gain in stature. One of his best is Horseman on the Roof (1951), his chronicle of the great cholera epidemic of 1838. Giono was honoured with the Prince Rainier of Monaco literary prize in 1953, awarded for his lifetime achievements, was elected to the Acadï¿½mie Goncourt in 1954, and became a member of the Conseil Littï¿½raire of Monaco in 1963. Giono died of a heart attack in 1970.Barbara Bray (nï¿½e Jacobs) was born on November 24, 1924 in Paddington, London. She died on February 25, 2010. Bray was an English translator and critic. She translated the correspondence of Gustave Flaubert, and work by leading French speaking writers of her own time including Marguerite Duras, Amin Maalouf, Julia Kristeva, Michel Quint, Jean Anouilh, Michel Tournier, Jean Genet, Alain Bosquet, Rï¿½jean Ducharme and Philippe Sollers. She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1986. She had a personal and professional relationship with the married Samuel Beckett that continued for the rest of his life, and Bray was one of the few people with whom he discussed his work. Bray suffered a stroke at the end of 2003, but despite this disability she continued to write Beckett's memoirs, Let Mortals Rejoice..., which she could not complete. Bray recorded some of her reflections about Beckett in a series of conversations with her friend, Marek Kedzierski, from 2004 to 2009. Excerpts have been published in many languages, but not English as of yet.
Ahdaf Soueif was born in Cairo and educated in Egypt and England. She lives in London.