If you create an act, you create a habit.
If you create a habit, you create a character.
If you create a character, you create a destiny.
– Andre Maurois
Photo credit: Harlinque/H. Roger-Violle
André Maurois (born Émile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog; 26 July 1885 – 9 October 1967) was a French author.
Maurois was born in Elbeuf and educated at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen,[ both in Normandy. Maurois was the son of Ernest Herzog, a Jewish textile manufacturer, and Alice (Lévy-Rueff) Herzog. His family had fled Alsace after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 and took refuge in Normandy, where they owned a woollen mill at Elbeuf.
During World War I he joined the French army and served as an interpreter and later a liaison officer to the British army. His first novel, Les silences du colonel Bramble, was a witty but socially realistic account of that experience. It was an immediate success in France. It was translated and also became popular in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries as The Silence of Colonel Bramble. Many of his other works have also been translated into English, as they often dealt with British people or topics, such as his biographies of Disraeli, Byron, and Shelley.
In 1938 Maurois was elected to the prestigious Académie française. Maurois was encouraged and assisted in seeking this post by Marshal Philippe Pétain, and he made a point of acknowledging with thanks his debt to Pétain in his 1941 autobiography, “Call no man happy” – though by the time of writing, their paths had sharply diverged, Pétain having become Head of State of the Régime de Vichy France.
When World War II began, he was appointed the French Official Observer attached to the British General Headquarters. In his official capacity he accompanied the British Army to Belgium. He personally knew the main politicians of the French Government, and on 10 June 1940, he was sent on a mission to London. The Armistice ended that mission. Maurois was demobilised and travelled from England to Canada. He wrote of these experiences in his book, Tragedy in France.
During World War II he served in the French army and the Free French Forces.
“André Maurois” was a pseudonym that became his legal name in 1947.
He died in 1967 in Neuilly-sur-Seine after a long career as an author of novels, biographies, histories, children’s books and science fiction stories. He is buried in the Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery near Paris.