Simone Schwarz-Bart: Biography

Simone Schwarz-Bart

Simone Schwarz-Bart is a French writer of novels and plays, born Simone Brumant in 1938. There are varying accounts as to whether she was born in Saintes in France or if she was born in her parents’ native Guadeloupe. Her father was a soldier and remained in France during the Second World War to fight for the allied forces while she and her mother, who worked as a teacher, moved back to Guadeloupe.

Schwarz-Bart returned to Paris to study, and met her future husband, André Schwarz-Bart, there in 1956. He encouraged her to become a professional writer. They wrote several novels together, beginning with Un plat de porc aux bananas vertes, a historical novels about exiled people of Jewish and Caribbean descent. Their books were almost all dedicated to exploring political issues affecting black people in the 20th Century, and women in particular. They also compiled a six-volume encyclopaedia of important black female historical figures who were missing from the traditional history books. Many of these joint ventures were published solely under André’s name, denying Simone credit for part-authorship.

Simone Schwarz-Bart has received several awards and prizes in recognition of her collected works and contribution to Literature. In 2006, Schwarz-Bart was given the rank of Commander by the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honour to be offered by the French Minister of Culture. In 2008, the Schwarz-Barts were awarded the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Monde for the total body of their work.