Marguerite Yourcenar: Biography

Marguerite Yourcenar

08 jun 1903

Marguerite Yourcenar holds the high honour of being the first woman to be elected to the Academie Francaise, an exclusive literary institution. Originally named as Marguerite de Crayencour; was multi-talented and shined as a novelist, essayist, short-story writer, playwright, poet and a translator.

Marguerite Yourcenar was born in Brussels, Belgium to Belgian mother and French father. Her mother died ten days after her birth. She was under the care of her grandparents. Marguerite used to travel a lot with her father. She gained tremendous knowledge by visiting museums and classical theatres.

Most of Marguerite’s education was at home. She had many private tutors teaching her. An avid reader from a very young age, Marguerite acquired a Bachelor’s degree. She started to write from her teenage. Her family was well off and so when her father died, Marguerite became wealthy. It was during the time of World War II that she settled permanently in U.S.

‘Le Jardin des Chimeres’ and ‘Les Dieux ne sont pas morts’ were Marguerite’s famous poetry collections. Her first novel, ‘Alexis’ was published in 1929. Marguerite’s famous works include, ‘Coup de grace’, ‘L’oeuvre au noir’ and ‘How Wang-Fo Was Saved’. Her masterpiece, ‘Memoires d’Hadrien’ was a historic novel. People admired her classical style of writing and most of her novels talked about modern issues set in historical background.

Marguerite Yourcenar translated many African American spirituals and various English and American novels into French. In 1979, she was granted a special dual U.S – French citizenship by the French President.

Being the most respected writer of the French language, Marguerite died due to heart stroke on Dec 17, 1987 in Mount Desert Island, Maine, USA. ‘Petite Plaisance’ in Maine where she lived is now made a museum.