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Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944) was a French aviator and writer who has achieved literary immortality through his story, 'The Little Prince', a story for children that has a great appeal for readers of all ages.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery was born on 29 June 1900, in Lyon to an old family of provincial nobility. He was the third of five children of Marie de Fonscolombe and Viscount Jean de Saint Exupéry, an insurance broker who died before his son was four.
After failing his final exams at preparatory school, Saint-Exupéry entered the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. In 1921, he began his military service with the 2e Régiment de chasseurs à cheval (English: 2nd Regiment of Light Cavalry). He was then sent to Strasbourg for training as a pilot. The following year, he obtained his licence and was offered a transfer to the air force. Bowing to the objections of the family of his fiancée – the future novelist Louise Leveque de Vilmorin – he settled in Paris instead and took an office job. However, not long after, the couple broke off their engagement, and by 1926, Saint-Exupery was flying again.
He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight, in the days when aircraft had few instruments. Saint-Exupéry’s first story, L’Aviateur(The Aviator), was published in the magazine Le Navire d’Argent. In 1929, he published his first book, Courrier Sud(Southern Mail); his career as an aviator was also burgeoning, and that same year he flew the Casablanca/Dakar route.
In 1931 he married Consuelo Sancin, however Saint-Exupery travelled frequently and indulged in numerous affairs. Saint-Exupéry continued to write and fly until the beginning of World War II. During the war, he initially flew a Bloch MB.170 with the GR II/33 reconnaissance squadron of the Armée de l’Air.
After France’s 1940 armistice with Germany, he travelled to the United States. The Saint-Exupérys lived in a penthouse apartment at 240 Central Park South in New York City and a rented mansion in Asharoken on Long Island’s north shore between January 1941 and April 1943. They also lived in Quebec City in Canada for a time in 1942.
He wrote The Little Prince in Asharoken in mid-to-late 1942, the manuscript being completed by October 1942. The Little Prince was a poetic, self-illustrated tale, in which a pilot, stranded in the desert, meets a young prince from a tiny asteroid. Antoine died in an aeroplane crash on 31 July 1944 and his body was recovered south of Marseille.