French-Cuban-American diarist, essayist, and novelist Anais Nin wrote several volumes of journals, erotica, novels, critical studies, essays, and short stories. Her journals and diaries are among her most studied works. She had a deep interest in psychoanalysis and studied it extensively with René Allendy and Otto Rank. Critics consider her one of the finest writers of female erotica.
Michel Houellebecq is a French author known for his novels, essays, and poems. He also occasionally makes films. As controversial as he is popular, he has been accused of obscenity, misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia. His works generally receive positive responses and some critics consider him one of the greatest living authors today. He is a recipient of the Prix Goncourt.
Jean Genet was a French playwright, novelist, essayist, poet, and political activist. Genet is best remembered for his transformation into a writer and playwright after spending his early life as a petty criminal and vagabond. His best-known works include novels, such as Our Lady of the Flowers and The Thief's Journal.
Nobel Prize-winning French author Andre Gide is remembered for exhibiting the conflict between sexuality and the puritanical standards of society through his works. Much of his work was autobiographical and used the confessional format. A homosexual himself, he defended homosexuality through works such as Corydon.
Known widely as Turkey’s most popular female author, Elif Shafak is best known for her Booker-shortlisted bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. A fierce advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, she is also a 3-time TEDGlobal speaker. She now lives in London, on a self-imposed exile.
Tristan Tzara was a Romanian-born French avant-garde performance artist, poet, and essayist. A multi-talented personality, Tzara was also active as a playwright, journalist, art and literary critic, film director, and composer. Tristan Tzara is best remembered for co-founding the anti-establishment Dada movement, which he helped popularize. He is also credited with co-founding the Romanian literary and art magazine Simbolul.
French far-right politician Éric Zemmour gained fame on the show Face à l'Info. He has also been a prominent political journalist for publications such as Le Quotidien de Paris and Le Figaro. The founder-leader of Reconquête, he was grabbed by the neck by an unknown man at his first campaign rally.
Belgian-born French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, who later settled in the US, is best remembered for her award-winning works such as Mémoires d'Hadrien. She was also the first female member to be elected to the Académie Française. She used an anagram of her original last name, Crayencour, as her surname.
Tzvetan Todorov was a Bulgarian-French historian, philosopher, literary critic, and sociologist. He completed his doctorat ès lettres at the University of Paris and had a brilliant academic career. He helped to found the journal Poétique and served as one of its managing editors. He authored many books, including Conquest of America: The Question of the Other.
French author and filmmaker Georges Perec lost his father in World War II and his mother to the Holocaust. After working as a paratrooper, a teacher, and an archivist, he was drawn to the Oulipo group and took to writing. He is best remembered for his award-winning novel La Vie mode d'emploi.
Romain Rolland was a French novelist, essayist, dramatist, mystic, and art historian. In 1915, Rolland was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. One of the most important supporters of Josef Stalin, Rolland is also remembered for his significant influence on Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud.
French classical author Francois de La Rochefoucauld is best known for his use of the maxime, a French epigram. He had initially been part of the army that fought against the Spanish. He later grew up to be the quintessential 17th-century nobleman. His Mémoires and Maximes are his most-talked-about works.
Nobel Prize-winning French-Mauritian author J. M. G. Le Clézio is also a renowned academician who has taught at Nanjing University. His debut novel, Le Procès-Verbal, or The Interrogation, which he had penned at 23, won him the Prix Renaudot. His works also include short stories, children’s tales, and travel diaries.
British-born Robert Faurisson was interested in classical languages since his early days and had taught French literature at the University of Lyon. He later gained notoriety as a chief Holocaust denier. He also raised questions on the authenticity of Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s memoir and was later banned from teaching.
27 Alain Soral
Apart from being an essayist and a filmmaker, Alain Soral is also a far-right extremist, who has been in trouble for his antisemitic tendencies. Once imprisoned for racism and Holocaust denial, he also established his own political organization, Égalité & Réconciliation, with the help of far-right students’ unions.
30 Albert Memmi
31 Guy Gilbert
French Roman Catholic priest Guy Gilbert was trained in Algeria and later began his spiritual career working with juvenile delinquents in France. He has mentored Belgian prince Laurent and has also worked for Radio Notre-Dame and La Croix. The Légion d’Honneur winner has also penned several books.
Born into a middle-class French family, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle wished to enter diplomatic service but was forced to interrupt his career when World War I broke out. He later got inspired by Surrealism and penned books such as The Fire Within. He was also an advocate for fascism.
35 Vernon Lee
British author Violet Page wrote under the pseudonym Vernon Lee and dressed without inhibitions. Rumors claimed she was a lesbian, though she never stated so. The poet and critic is best remembered for her work on aesthetics, Belcaro. She was also a skilled harpsichord player and a true-blue feminist.
36 Julien Green
39 Léon Bloy
Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois was a French actor, essayist, dramatist, and revolutionary. He played an important role during the Reign of Terror, serving as one of the most important members of the Committee of Public Safety. Although he is credited with saving Madame Tussaud from the Guillotine, Collot d'Herbois oversaw the execution of over 2,000 people in Lyon.
42 Julien Benda
46 Edgar Faure
Edgar Faure was a French historian, lawyer, and politician. After serving as the Prime Minister of France in 1952, Faure went on to serve as Prime Minister again from 1955 to 1956. Faure also served as the President of the National Assembly from 1973 to 1978. He played an important role in the creation of the Assembly of European Regions.
Stéphane Hessel was a concentration camp survivor and a French Resistance member. He studied at the École Normale Supérieure and served in the army for a while. He became a resistance member during World War II and was taken to a concentration camp. He survived the ordeal and later became an ambassador and diplomat. He was also a published author.
48 Paul Morand
Twentieth-century French diplomat Paul Morand was also a celebrated author. In his initial works, such as Closed All Night, he used techniques such as going back and forth in time. His short stories and novels included The Harried Man and Be Quiet. He also penned travel accounts and biographies.