Birthday: February 13, 1903
Died At Age: 86
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Georges Joseph Christian Simenon
Born Country: Belgium
Born in: Liège, Belgium
Famous as: Novelist
Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Denyse Ouimet (m. 1950–1964), Régine Renchon (m. 1923–1950)
father: Désiré Simenon
mother: Henriette Simenon
siblings: Christian Simenon
children: Johnny Simenon, Marc Simenon, Marie-Jo Simenon, Pierre Simenon
Died on: September 4, 1989
place of death: Lausanne
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Diseases & Disabilities: Brain Tumour
City: Liège, Belgium
Who was Georges Simenon?
Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a prolific Belgian author with nearly 500 novels and short works under his belt. He was the creator of the famous detective character ‘Jules Maigret’. Known for writing very fast, he used to complete his novels within about a week and a half! He was one of the highest-paid writers in the mid-twentieth century. His first novel ‘Au Pont des Arches’ was published when he was just in his late teens. He wrote this novel in just ten days, and thus, he laid the foundation for his rapid production of books. It is widely known that he used to type at least 80 pages in a day in order to quickly complete his books. As an author, he also used a wide variety of pen names, including ‘Christian Brulls’ and ‘Gom Gut’. One of his commercial novels was written in exactly 25 hours, purely with an intention of training himself for bigger works.
Childhood & Early Life
Georges Simenon was born to Desire Simenon and Henriette on February 13, 1903. Owing to the superstition associated with the date, his birth date was registered as “12th February.” He was born in Liege, which is located in present-day Belgium. The story of his birth forms the basis for the beginning of his novel ‘Pedigree.’
In April 1905, his family moved to 3 Rue Pasteur in the Outremeuse neighborhood of Liege where his brother, Christian, was born in September 1906. His brother was his mother’s favorite child, and this caused the young Georges distress.
When he was three, he was put in the Saint-Julienne nursery school where he learned to read. In 1908, he started attending the Institut Saint-Andre which he attended till 1914. Later, he moved to College Saint-Louis after the end of the First World War.
In 1918, he stopped his education completely, attributing it to his father’s heart condition. He started taking up a number of short and odd jobs.
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In January 1919, Georges Simenon took a job at the ‘Gazette de Liege’ which was a newspaper edited by Joseph Demarteau. He mostly used to cover unpopular human interest stories which gave him a chance to see the dark side of the world.
He mainly covered reports related to politics, crimes, police investigations, etc. His experience also taught him the art of editing quickly. During his stint there, he wrote nearly 150 articles under the pen name ‘G. Sim.’
He published his first novel ‘Au Pont des Arches’ in 1921 as G. Sim. The following year, he stopped writing for the ‘Gazette.’
In 1922, his father died, and Georges moved to Paris. He gained familiarity with the city’s hotels and bars, and also understood the lives of the working-class Parisians. He wrote under various pen names in Paris, which improved his financial situation tremendously.
In 1930, his famous character ‘Jules Maigret’ made his appearance for the first time in ‘Detective’ which was written upon the request of Joseph Kessel, a French journalist and novelist. The story was written while he was on a boat in the Netherlands.
Over the next few years, he spent his time extensively in traveling to various countries in Africa, eastern Europe, Turkey, and the Soviet Union. He sent reports regularly from his travels and continued his travels till 1935.
He wrote his next novel ‘Le Testament Donadieu’ when he was residing at La Richardiere, a mansion in Masilly. Similarly, at the beginning of 1938, he rented a villa in La Rochelle that was featured in his book ‘Le Suspect’.
He lived in Vendee at the time of the Second World War. During this period, he got entangled in a controversy as some scholars believed that he collaborated with Germans regularly, while another set of scholars thought that he was an apolitical and opportunistic man who never collaborated with the Germans. The situation became even worse when he went on to negotiate film rights for many of his books with German studios.
During the war, he came up with many books such as ‘Le Voyageur la Toussaint’ and ‘Le Cercle des Mahe’. He published the novel ‘La Veuve Couderc’ in 1945 which was published around the same time Albert Camus’ ‘The Stranger’ was published. Incidentally, both the books contained a similar theme and characters. However, Camus’ book gained more acclaim than Simenon’s book, much to his dismay.
Family & Personal Life
During Georges Simenon’s early career, he used to visit a group of artists called “La Caque” where he met his future wife, Regine Renchon. They got married in March 1923 at Liege. They had a church wedding upon his mother’s insistence.
Even though he was married, he was involved in many affairs over the years, including the one with Josephine Baker, an American-born French entertainer.
In 1929, he had a boat built, called ‘Ostrogoth.’ He used to travel across the French canal system with his wife, cook, housekeeper Henriette Liberge, and their dog, Olaf, on this boat. Henriette got involved with Simenon romantically and remained a close friend of the family for many decades.
Death & Legacy
Georges Simenon had to undergo surgery for a brain tumor in 1984, which had a long-term impact on his health even though he was believed to have made a good recovery. He died in his sleep on 4th September 1989, in Lausanne.
He was honored with a commemorative coin which read ‘The Belgian 100 Years of Georges Simenon coin,’ which was minted in 2003. The coin also had his portrait. In the same year, 21 of his books were included in the collection ‘La Pleiade’.