Simone de Beauvoir

Lived:January 9, 1908—April 14, 1986 (aged 78)
Career:writer and political activist
Education:B.A. and M.A., Sorbonne

Simone de Beauvoir (Lucie-Ernestine-Marie-Bertrand de Beauvoir) was a French writer and political activist.

De Beauvoir was born in Paris, France, on January 9, 1908. She studied at convent schools during her youth, with the hopes of becoming a nun. However, at age 14 she denounced Catholicism and became an atheist. In 1925, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique de Paris and literature/languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. In 1928, she completed a degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne, and then wrote her diplôme d'études supérieures (roughly equivalent to an M.A. thesis). From 1929 to 1943, de Beauvoir taught at the lycée level (upper secondary education) until she could support herself with her writing. She published her first novel, "She Came to Stay," in 1943.

Published in 1949, "The Second Sex" is de Beauvoir’s critique of patriarchy and the second-rate status granted to women throughout history. Now viewed as one of the most important and earliest works of feminism, at the time of its publication it was received with great controversy, with some critics characterizing the book as pornography and the Vatican placing the work on the church's list of forbidden texts. Four years later, the first English-language edition was published in the United States. In 2009, a second, unedited English volume was published, bolstering de Beauvoir’s already significant reputation as one of the great thinkers of the modern feminist movement.

De Beauvoir died on April 14, 1986.