Jean Genet's life was full of sorrow and rebellion. Born illegitimately in 1910, he was abandoned by his mother, raised by Public Assistance, and sent to live with foster parents at the age of seven. He turned to thievery and prostitution at an early age and was sent to a reform school and, later, to prison. Many of these early experiences form the basis of his well-known works, including Miracle of the Rose and The Thief's Journal. Genet began writing in 1942, while in prison. His first work, Our Lady of the Flowers, was written slowly, since his manuscripts were repeatedly seized by prison officials. Like many of Genet's works, it contains highly homoerotic scenes and is based on his experiences and dreams as a prisoner and prostitute. In 1948, Genet was convicted for the 10th time for stealing, which carried an automatic penalty of life imprisonment. Several famous artists, including Sartre and Cocteau, rushed to his aid and were able to secure a pardon. Soon after, he began writing for the theatre. Plays such as The Blacks and The Balcony are considered classics of avant-garde drama, designed to shock the audience. These plays are from the movement known as The Theatre of the Absurd, which are based on the Existential philosophies of Albert Camus. Jean Genet died in Paris on April 15, 1986.