Antoine de Saint-Exupéry lived quite an interesting life. He made waves while he was here on Earth. Let us take a walk through his life- from his childhood to adulthood and to the point where the lights go off for him. A brief biography of the renowned author.
- Antoine was born on June 29th, 1900, in Lyon France, to an aristocratic family.
- His father died at the age of 4.
- He was the third of five children, and his only brother Francois died at the age of 15.
- He experienced his first flight at the age of 12.
- On July 31, 1944, while on a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean, Antoine disappeared and never returned.
- ‘The Little Prince‘ remains his most popular work and a best seller translated into over 300 languages.
- He worked in aviation for many years, and his experiences as a pilot are reflected in most of his works.
- In addition to being a writer and an aviator, Antoine was also a painter.
- The wreckage of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Lockheed P-38 Lightning plane was recovered decades later.
- In 1998, his necklace was recovered by a fisherman.
Born in Lyon, France, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry attended Catholic schools in France before he was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland after the outbreak of World War I. He returned to France in 1917 and attended a college prep school for a short period of time before attempting to enter the naval academy. Antoine failed the exam and instead went on to study Architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born into a Catholic family. He is said to have been related to Bishop Saint Exuperius. He had four siblings, and he was the third child from his parents: Viscountess Marie de Fonscolombe and Viscount Jean de Saint-Exupéry.
His father’s death demoralized his entire family, basically turning them into ‘impoverished aristocrats.’ He had three sisters and one brother. His brother died of rheumatic fever. He described his brother’s death thus- “He fell as gently as a [young] tree falls.” These were the same lines he used in describing how the little prince from his novel ‘The Little Prince’ left his physical body on Earth. He thought his brother’s death to be peaceful. He said about it: “He remained motionless for an instant. He did not cry out.” After his father’s death, Antoine quickly took up the role of a protector for his family.
Aviation, War, and Writing
Antoine dreamt of becoming a naval officer. However, he wrote the exam and failed it. He went on to join aviation, instead. This line of work, especially at that time, was dangerous by the way. In 1927, he finally reached his goal of becoming a pilot after having been a mechanic for some time as the rites of passage. He completed dangerous missions and had many accidents in the middle of the desert. During his missions, Saint-Exupéry Antoine thought deeply about solitude, friendship, the meaning of life, the human condition, and liberty. He published his reflections. These thoughts resulted in ‘The Little Prince’ amongst many other books written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Antoine was a successful commercial pilot. That was before World War II. He worked across Europe, Africa, and South America. It is also worth mentioning that one of his books, arguably his best book even: ‘The Little Prince’ was set mostly in a desert in Africa where the narrator’s aircraft crashed into. What are the odds? It is obvious he applied his experiences in his writing. He joined the French Air Force at the start of the war, a war which France ended up losing by the way. He fought alongside France until France’s armistice with Germany in 1940. Then he was 40. After his time with the French Air Force elapsed, he traveled to the US to convince its government to take up arms against Nazi Germany.
During his stay in the US, he took to writing. It was then he crafted his most important works. Subsequently, he joined the Free French Air Force in North Africa even though he had long before then exceeded the age for that sort of work. In addition to that, his health was declining. He went missing in action and is believed to have died while on a reconnaissance mission from Corsica over the Mediterranean on July 31st, 1944. The wreckage of his plane was discovered off the coast of Marseille. It is believed that he crashed his aircraft. However, the exact cause of death remains unknown.
Antoine enlisted in the Army and fought alongside the French against the Germans. He served in the French Army, French Air Force, and Free French Air Force. He served between 1921 and 1944. He served: 1921-1923, 1939-1940, and 1943-1944. He was a Commander. He served in the 2nd Chasseurs à Cheval Regiment, Cheval Regiment, 34th Aviation Regiment, and 37th Fighter Regiment. His major battle/war was WWII, and he won the Croix de Guerre  and Croix de Guerre avec Palme . The latter was a posthumous award.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry won so many awards while he was alive. Notable amongst them are: Prix Femina , Legion of Honour [1930 and 1939], Grande Prix du Roman de l’académie français  and U.S National Book Award .
Literature by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Explore literature by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry below, created by the team at Book Analysis.