Famous French Novelists

Novels are not just considered to be great food for the mind, many people resort to reading in a bid to unwind. Over the past few centuries, many novels have proved the saying ‘pen is mightier than sword’ through their impact. While a few of these played a great role in influencing human society, many others have even sparked off revolutions. Though other forms of media such as radio and television became popular later, many are of the opinion that they haven’t overshadowed the popularity of novels completely. France has a long list of scholars and writers who have penned novels belonging to different genres. Some of the famous novelists from this European nation include Honoré d'Urfé, François Rabelais, Charles Sorel and sieur de Souvigny. ‘The Princess of Cleves’, ‘The Human Comedy’, and ‘Candide’ are few of the path-breaking works of French literature. Other famous novels such as ‘The Hunch Back of Notre Dame’ have also been adapted into movies and went on to become blockbusters. Here is an extensive compilation of biographies of some of the most famous French novelists. Read on and find out everything about their life stories, career, profile, timelines and also a few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Voltaire

Voltaire
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 21, 1694
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: May 30, 1778
18th-century historian, author, philosopher, and advocate of freedom of speech Voltaire was a leading figure of the French Age of Enlightenment. He often ran into trouble for his criticism of the French nobility and the Roman Catholic Church. He once went to Britain on voluntary exile, fearing imprisonment in France.

 2 Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas
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Birthdate: July 24, 1802
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: December 5, 1870

One of the most widely read French authors of all time, Alexandre Dumas was prolific in several genres. He joined the army as a young man and later became a full-time writer. Starting his writing career as a playwright, he moved on to writing novels. His novels have been adapted into nearly 200 films in the past century.

 3 Marquis de Sade

Marquis de Sade
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Famous As: Erotic Novelist
Birthdate: June 2, 1740
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: December 2, 1814
Marquis de Sade is remembered for his erotic books such as The 120 Days of Sodom. He was known for his peculiar way of deriving sexual pleasure by torturing his victims, now known as “sadism.” He was jailed for several years for sexual abuse against men, women, and children. 

 4 Jules Verne

Jules Verne
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 8, 1828
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: March 24, 1905
French author Jules Verne, also known as the “Father of Science Fiction,” is best remembered for his legendary adventure novels Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He also became the world’s second most-translated writer since 1979.
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 5 Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: April 14, 1986
French author and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex and her novels The Mandarins and She Came to Stay. Her literary contributions also include essays, biographies, and her autobiographical works. She won the Prix Goncourt and the Jerusalem Prize.

 6 Colette

Colette
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 28, 1873
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: August 3, 1954

Colette was a French author who received a nomination for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. She is remembered for her novella Gigi, which inspired the 1958 movie and the 1973 musical of the same name. Her life and work have inspired several films, including the 2018 biographical drama film Colette, where Keira Knightley played the title role.

 7 Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac
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Famous As: French Novelist and Playwright
Birthdate: May 20, 1799
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: August 18, 1850

Honoré de Balzac was a French playwright and novelist. Since his works gave a detailed, unfiltered representation of society, Honoré de Balzac is generally considered one of the founders of realism and an important figure in European literature. Renowned for creating multi-faceted characters, Balzac influenced several popular writers like Charles John Huffam Dickens, Émile Zola, Henry James, and Gustave Flaubert.

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 8 Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant
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Famous As: Novelist & Short Story Writer
Birthdate: August 5, 1850
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: July 6, 1893

Guy de Maupassant was a French author who wrote 300 short stories during his illustrious career. Widely regarded as the father of the modern short story, Maupassant's stories are characterized by economy of style and depicted human lives in pessimistic terms,

 9 George Sand

George Sand
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Birthdate: July 1, 1804
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: June 8, 1876
Nineteenth-century French author Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, better known as George Sand, became a leading figure of the Romantic era of Europe. She is best remembered for works such as La Petite Fadette and had numerous affairs, the most notable of them being the one with composer Frédéric Chopin.

 10 Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau
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Famous As: Novelist, Poet, Artist & Filmmaker
Birthdate: July 5, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: October 11, 1963
While Jean Cocteau preferred calling himself a poet, his multidimensional works consisted of novels such as Les Enfants Terribles and films directed by him such as La Belle et la Bête. Cocteau relied on motifs such as eyes, blood, and mirrors, and mingled mythology and modernism.

 11 Denis Diderot

Denis Diderot
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 5, 1713
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: July 31, 1784

Denis Diderot revolutionized the Age of Enlightenment as the co-founder of Encyclopédie, which was banned for questioning religion. He had flirted with the idea of joining the theater and becoming a priest, and even studied law, but later devoted himself to languages, literature, and philosophy.

 12 Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq
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Famous As: Poet, Film director, Songwriter, Essayist, Novelist, Screenwriter, Actor, Writer, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: February 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French

 13 Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert
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Famous As: Novelist, Writer
Birthdate: December 12, 1821
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 8, 1880

Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist best remembered for his first novel Madame Bovary, which was later adapted into an opera. One of the most influential French novelists of all time, Flaubert is widely regarded as the main exponent of literary realism in France. His work inspired his protégé and short story writer Guy de Maupassant, who later achieved much acclaim.

 14 Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi
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Famous As: Graphic Novelist
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French, Iranian

Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, children's book author, and film director. Satrapi achieved international recognition in the early-2000s after releasing her critically acclaimed graphic novels. She is best known for writing and directing an animated biographical drama film titled Persepolis, which received nominations at prestigious award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globes.

 15 Jean Genet

Jean Genet
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 19, 1910
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: April 15, 1986

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.

 16 François Rabelais

François Rabelais
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 4, 1494
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: April 9, 1553

François Rabelais was a French writer, Renaissance humanist, physician, monk, and Greek scholar. Regarded as one of the great writers by Western literary critics, Rabelais is also considered one of the creators of modern European writing. He is remembered for Gargantua and Pantagruel, a pentalogy of novels that are regarded as one of the earliest forms of the modern novel.

 17 Stendhal

Stendhal
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 23, 1783
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: March 23, 1842
French author Marie-Henri Beyle, better known by his pseudonym, Stendhal, had used a number of other pseudonyms, too. He had lost his mother early in life and had also served in the French army briefly. He is remembered for novels such as The Red and the Black.

 18 Romain Gary

Romain Gary
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Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: May 21, 1914
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: December 2, 1980

Romain Gary was a French novelist, diplomat, and film director of Jewish origin. He also served as an aviator during World War II. One of France’s most popular and prolific writers, he is the only author to have won the Prix Goncourt twice. He had a troubled personal life and died of suicide in 1980.

 19 Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Louis-Ferdinand Céline
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Famous As: French novelist
Birthdate: May 27, 1894
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: July 1, 1961

 20 Marguerite Duras

Marguerite Duras
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Famous As: Writer, Film director, Screenwriter, Publisher, Novelist, Playwright, Autobiographer, Journalist, Poet lawyer, Feminist
Birthdate: April 4, 1914
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French, Vietnamese
Died: March 3, 1996

 21 Alain Badiou

Alain Badiou
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Famous As: Philosopher, Novelist, Playwright, Editor, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: January 17, 1937
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French

 22 Anatole France

Anatole France
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 16, 1844
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: October 12, 1924

Anatole France was a French poet, novelist, and journalist. Renowned for writing many best-sellers, Anatole France was one of the most respected French writers of his generation. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921 for his brilliant literary achievements.

 23 Andre Malraux

Andre Malraux
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Famous As: French Novelist
Birthdate: November 3, 1901
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: November 23, 1976

A prominent supporter of President Charles de Gaulle, author Andre Malraux had served as the French minister of cultural affairs for a decade. He initiated anti-colonial and socialist movements in South-east Asia and also went on expeditions to discover mythical wonders such as the capital of the Queen of Sheba.

 24 Patrick Modiano

Jean Patrick Modiano
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Famous As: French Novelist
Birthdate: July 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French

 25 Arthur de Gobineau

Arthur de Gobineau
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Famous As: Racial theorist, Philosopher, Writer, Diplomat, Poet, Novelist, Sociologist, Politician
Birthdate: July 14, 1816
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: October 13, 1882

 26 Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French, Turkish

 27 Georges Perec

Georges Perec
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Famous As: Writer, Film director, Screenwriter, Poet, Novelist, Essayist, Librarian, Literary critic
Birthdate: March 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: March 3, 1982

 28 Joris-Karl Huysmans

Joris-Karl Huysmans
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Famous As: Writer, Art critic, Novelist
Birthdate: February 5, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 12, 1907

 29 Romain Rolland

Romain Rolland
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Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Essayist, Historian, Novelist, Musicologist
Birthdate: January 29, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: December 30, 1944

 30 Maurice Leblanc

Maurice Leblanc
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Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: November 11, 1864
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: November 6, 1941

 31 Gaston Leroux

Gaston Leroux
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Famous As: Journalist, Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter
Birthdate: May 6, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: April 15, 1927

 32 Catherine Breillat

Catherine Breillat
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Famous As: Film director, Actor, Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter, University teacher
Birthdate: July 13, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French

 33 Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Francois de La Rochefoucauld
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 15, 1613
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: March 17, 1680

 34 Chrétien de Troyes

Chrétien de Troyes
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Birthdate: 0000 AD
Nationality: French

 35 Pierre Boulle

Pierre Boulle
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Famous As: Writer, Screenwriter, Novelist, Engineer, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: February 20, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: January 30, 1994

 36 George Steiner

George Steiner
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Famous As: Philosopher, Novelist, Writer, University teacher, Literary critic, Journalist
Birthdate: April 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French, American

 37 Françoise Sagan

Françoise Sagan
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Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Novelist, Screenwriter, Biographer
Birthdate: June 21, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: September 24, 2004

 38 Théophile Gautier

Théophile Gautier
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Famous As: writer, journalist, playwright, literary critic, art critic
Birthdate: August 31, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: October 22, 1872

 39 Alexandre Dumas, fils

Alexandre Dumas, fils
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 27, 1824
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: November 27, 1895

 40 Alphonse Daudet

Alphonse Daudet
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Famous As: Novelist, Short story writer, playwright, poet
Birthdate: May 13, 1840
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: December 16, 1897

Alphonse Daudet was a French novelist whose books are still widely read in France. He often collaborated with his wife Julia Daudet, a famous writer, poet, and journalist. Today, several schools and colleges in France are named in his honor.

 41 Marcel Pagnol

Marcel Pagnol
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 28, 1895
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: April 18, 1974

 42 Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry
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Famous As: Playwright, Writer, Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: September 8, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: November 1, 1907

 43 Anne Wiazemsky

Anne Wiazemsky
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Famous As: Actor, Film director, Novelist, Screenwriter, Writer
Birthdate: May 14, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French

 44 Alfred de Musset

Alfred de Musset
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Famous As: Dramatist, Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: December 11, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 2, 1857

 45 Alfred Musset

Alfred Musset
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Famous As: French dramatist
Birthdate: December 11, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 2, 1857

 46 Louis Aragon

Louis Aragon
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Famous As: Writer, Journalist, Politician, Poet, Novelist, Art critic
Birthdate: October 3, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: December 24, 1982

 47 Alain Robbe-Grillet

Alain Robbe-Grillet
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Famous As: Actor, Film director, Screenwriter, Writer, Novelist, Audio book narrator, Literary critic
Birthdate: August 18, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: February 18, 2008

 48 Yasmina Reza

Yasmina Reza
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Famous As: Actor, Linguist, Translator, Playwright, Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: May 1, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French

 49 Jean Froissart

Jean Froissart
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Famous As: chronicler, historian, canon, poet, writer
Birthdate: 1337 AD
Nationality: French
Died: 1405 AD

 50 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 13, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French