You would find so many things about Antoine quite interesting. Let us take a look at some fun and interesting facts about him, some of which you might not know about.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born on June 29th, 1900, in Lyon France, to an aristocratic family. He had one brother and three sisters, and he was the third child. His brother [Francois] died of rheumatic fever. He felt this so much, and he described his brother’s death as peaceful. In his words: “He fell as he gently as a (young) tree.” He used these same words in describing how the little prince from his book ‘The Little Prince’ left his physical body on Earth.
Things began to plummet when his father, Jean, died. Then theirs became an ‘impoverished aristocratic family.’ His family was doing quite well until his father then.
Experiences Written as Stories
A good number of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s works were crafted based on his experiences. Using ‘The Little Prince’ as an example, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flew aircrafts in his lifetime. He was very much interested in nature. He crafted some of the notable characters in his books that way too.
He was also a curious child who carried out a lot of experiments and wrote poems too. It won’t be out of line to say that he was just about as curious as one of the fictional characters he created: the little prince. He experienced his first flight at the age of 12. One fun fact, he grew up to be quite tall: 6’2.
He is said to have been a ‘distracted flier’ and wouldn’t land until he finished reading the book he was reading.
It was during his time at Aeropostale that he published his first text: ‘L’Aviateur’ on the 1st of April 1926. He then went on to publish his first novel ‘Southern Mail.’ He drew inspiration from his experiences as a pilot. ‘Night Flight’ followed this one and made waves. It is considered his breakthrough book.
He wrote mostly through the night until morning, or the sun came out. His friends attested to this.
Werth entrusted his memoir to Antoine to write a preface. Antoine wrote a moving preface: ‘Letter to a Hostage’ which he published in 1943. Werth’s ‘A memoir‘ was released years after the war and republished with Antoine’s preface.
Antoine wanted to become a naval officer, but he failed his exam. He then decided to pursue his ambition of becoming a pilot.
Later, he got a job delivering airmail with Aeropostale across Europe and North Africa. These planes always developed faults and crashed all the time. This made him establish a very cordial relationship with his fellow pilots, including French aviators- Henri Guillaumet and Jean Mermoz, as they were always rescuing each other. ‘Saint-Ex’ and ‘Toni’ were his nicknames. His friends addressed him by those.
And, did I mention- the young man from one of his books: ‘The Little Prince,’ crashed into a desert. Antoine put his experiences in writing.
Antoine won awards. Notable amongst them are: Prix Femina , Legion of Honour [1930,1939], Grande Prix du Roman de l’académie français  and U.S National Book Award .
In 1931 Antoine got married to a widow from El Salvador named Consuelo Carrillo. Their union was strained as they cheated on each other. As a result, they spent some time away from each other occasionally.
Antoine’s mistress- Nelly de Vogüé, wrote a loving biography of him in 1949. Pierre Chevrier was her pen name. Consuelo’s memoir: ‘The Tale of the Rose’ was not as loving or even loving at all. It exposed Antoine as a womanizer and a childish person. This memoir was published many years after her death.
With no children, he is survived by his nephews.
He fought alongside France against Germany. France lost that war. He then moved to the US to convince the government to fight Germany. He wrote about 3 books there. He stayed in New-York for more than 2 years, going against his initial plan of spending just a few weeks there.
Antoine was depressed for a while. He wanted to join in another war much later. A war he was past the age to participate actively in. His wife, Consuelo, rented a house to cheer him up. Most part of ‘The Little Prince’ was crafted in that house.
Antoine’s Masterpiece The Little Prince
Mark Cummins’ ‘The Lamplighter’ and André Maurois’ ‘Thirty-Six Thousand Wishes’ were sources of inspiration for Antoine’s ‘The Little Prince.’ First published in English and French in the US and Canada on April 6, 1943, it wasn’t until after the war that ‘The Little Prince’ was published in native France.
Original manuscripts also reveal that Antoine cut off a part where the little prince meets a man struggling to finish a crossword puzzle.
‘The Little Prince’ spent only about 14 days on the New York Times Bestseller List. It was a sensation anyway. Also, people really didn’t know what to categorize it as a children’s book or a book for adults. Eventually, they settled for the latter.
‘The Little Prince’ was formally banned in Hungary for being capable of inciting children and putting them in danger.
This masterpiece of Antoine’s also has been translated into over 300 languages. That is a milestone. The English language has about 7 to itself.
With several movie adaptations, ‘The Little Prince’ has also inspired a television show, musical, opera, ballet, and a theme park. It remains Antoine’s best-selling book, with over 200 million copies sold worldwide.
Circumstances Leading to Antoine’s Passing
On July 31, 1944, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry left the Island of Corsica in an aircraft and never returned. He was on his 10th reconnaissance mission. No one knows the exact cause of his death. The wreckage of his Lockheed P-38 Lightning was found, but his body was never recovered. His necklace was recovered by a fisherman in 1998.
Horst Rippert confessed he might have shot Antoine’s place down. That was in 2008, over 60 years after Antoine’s disappearance in the Mediterranean.
After his death, his mother published a book of poems in tribute to him. With no children, Antoine is survived by his nephews. Also, Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport was named after him.
Did Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ever make the effort to learn English?
No, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry never made the effort to learn English. Perhaps he never saw the need to learn the language. Or perhaps he did but never did learn it. He spent quite some time in the US, but he never learned the language. He relied instead on his friends and colleagues. But him not learning to speak the language did not stop scholars from translating his books into English.
What was the most interesting thing about Antoine’s marriage?
Nothing or everything.
Nothing, because his marriage wasn’t particularly a successful one. Yes, he probably remained married to Consuelo till death. However, infidelity thrived in the marriage, so much so that they had to spend time away from each other on many occasions. The union was so turbulent that the memoir Consuelo wrote about Antoine wasn’t loving. At least not as loving as the biography Antoine’s mistress write about him. In that memoir, Consuelo exposed Antoine as a womanizer and a childish man. The memoir was released several years after her death.
Everything, because chaos [though better off without it] can be interesting to observe sometimes.
Why are the circumstances surrounding his death said to be a mysterious?
Well, Antoine’s aircraft disappeared over the Mediterranean. He was believed to have crash landed there. What was left of the aircraft was found years later. A necklace belonging to him was also found much later by a fisherman. However, the body was never found. More than 60 years after his death, a man came forward to confess that it was probably he who shot down Antoine’s aircraft leading to his death.
What was Antoine’s favorite book growing up?
During his interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Antoine revealed that the first book he ever loved was a collection of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Some of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous fairy tales include- ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes,’ ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier,’ ‘The Nightingale’ among many others.