12 Jun 2020

The AuthorAntoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born on June 29, 1900, to an aristocratic family in Lyon, France. His father died just after his fourth birthday, leaving his family impoverished and Saint-Exupéry as man of the house. After failing his final exams at the preparatory Naval Academy, Saint-Exupéry enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. But it wasn’t long before he dropped out and began accepting odd jobs. In 1921, Saint-Exupéry began service in the military, first as a private soldier and then as a pilot in the French Air Force. He took a brief hiatus from flying but began again in 1926, becoming one of the pioneers of international postal flight. During his years as a pilot, Saint-Exupéry began writing. He was established as a rising star in the literary world with the publication of his 1931 novel Vol de nuit (Night Flight) about his experiences as a mail pilot.

In 1935, Saint-Exupéry and his co-pilot crashed their plane in the Sahara while flying from Paris to Saigon. Both men survived the crash but experienced intense dehydration and hallucinations. After four days in extreme desert heat they were discovered and saved using a native rehydration treatment. This experience was prominently featured in Saint-Exupéry’s memoir Wind, Sand, and Stars and proved a crucial inspiration for a scene in The Little Prince.

After France fell to the Germans in 1940, Saint-Exupéry and his wife, Consuelo, fled to New York. It was in New York that he was encouraged to write a children’s book based on the “little fellow” he frequently doodled on napkins and tablecloths. The Little Prince was published in 1943 and has become Saint-Exupéry’s best-known work. Later, Saint-Exupéry returned to France to fight and fly with the Free French Air Force. In 1944, while flying a reconnaissance mission over France, Saint-Exupéry’s aircraft disappeared, presumably shot down by German forces. The wreckage was finally found in 2004, in the Mediterranean Sea near Marseilles.