Cï¿½leste Albaret (1892-1984) was born into a peasant family in the mountainous region of Lozï¿½re, France. In 1913, she married Odilon Albaret, a Parisian chauffeur, whose clients included Marcel Proust. Odilon suggested that his new wife, who was lonely in the big city and at a loss for something to do, run errands for Proust, and before long Cï¿½leste found herself employed as the writer's full-time (indeed round-the-clock) housekeeper, secretary, and nurse, filling those roles until his death in 1922. In later years, Cï¿½leste ran a small hotel in Paris with her husband and daughter, and after Odilon's death in 1960, she became the caretaker of the Musï¿½e Ravel in the town of Montfort l'Amaury. Monsieur Proust was published in 1972. In recognition of her decade-long service to Proust, Cï¿½leste Albaret was made a commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters. She died of emphysema at the age of 92.
A regular contributor to the New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and The New Republic, Andre Aciman was born in Alexandria: raised in Egypt, Italy, and France; and educated at Harvard. He teaches literature at Bard College and lives in Manhattan.
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.