Pierre Benoit

Pierre Benoit

French writer, member of the French Academy
Date of Birth: 16.07.1886
Country: France

  1. Biography of Pierre Benoit
  2. Early Life
  3. Writing Career
  4. Later Years
  5. Later Works and Legacy

Biography of Pierre Benoit

Early Life

Pierre Benoit, a French writer and member of the French Academy (1931), was born in the city of Albi in southern France. His father served in the garrison of Albi, and although Benoit lived there for less than a year, he felt a strong connection to the city, especially its cathedral, which served as a source of inspiration for him. In 1887, his father was transferred to Tunisia and then Algeria. In 1907, after serving in the 1st Zouaves Regiment, Pierre continued his studies of literature and history in Montpellier. Failing to secure a position as a history teacher, he became a civil servant and worked in the field of education until 1922. During this time, he wrote his first poems, "Diadumenus" and "The Begging Women," for which he received the prize from the Society of French Writers.

Writing Career

At the beginning of World War I, Pierre Benoit was called to the front, but after the Battle of Charleroi, he fell seriously ill and was demobilized. His experience during the war led the young Benoit to become a convinced pacifist. After the war, his first novels, "Koenigsmark" (1918) and "Atlantis," were published. He received the Grand Prix from the Society of Writers for his second novel. From 1923 onwards, Benoit worked as a reporter for well-known Parisian newspapers such as Le Journal, France-Soir, and L'Intransigeant. He traveled to Turkey and Iran, Palestine and Syria, visited Australia and Tahiti, Argentina and Brazil, and interviewed Haile Selassie I, Benito Mussolini, and Hermann Göring. In parallel with his journalism career, he published novels such as "The Salt Lake," "The Mistress of the Lebanese Castle," "The Leper King," "The Wells of Jacob," "Mademoiselle de la Ferté," "Midnight Sun," and "The Forgotten."

Later Years

In 1929, Benoit became the president of the Society of Writers, and on July 11, 1931, he was elected a member of the French Academy. Many of his novels were adapted into films in the 1920s and 1930s. For example, "Atlantis" was brought to the screen by Jacques Feyder in 1921 and Georg Wilhelm Pabst in 1932, and "Koenigsmark" was adapted by Léonce Perret in 1923 and Maurice Tourneur in 1935. Despite being in Vienna during the Anschluss in 1938, Benoit remained hopeful of a union between France and Germany, and the beginning of World War II came as a surprise to him. In September 1944, he was arrested on suspicion of collaboration with the occupiers but had all charges dropped six months later.

Later Works and Legacy

With the publication of his novel "Agriate" in 1950, Pierre Benoit once again achieved success. In 1957, he wrote his 40th novel, "Montsalvat," and his five millionth book was sold. Radio broadcasts titled "From Koenigsmark to Montsalvat" featured conversations with him. In 1959, he resigned from the French Academy in protest after his longtime friend, writer Paul Morand, was not accepted into the Academy. On May 28, 1960, Benoit's wife, Pierre Marcelle, passed away, and he struggled to recover from this loss. He died on March 3, 1962.