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Violette Leduc
(April 7, 1907 - May 28, 1972) France

Violette Leduc

Writer and autobiographer

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Born in Arras as the illegitimate daughter of Berthe and the son of the couple Berthe worked for, Leduc's formal education was interrupted by the WWI after which she entered the Collège de Douai where she had lesbian relationships with a fellow pupil and a music instructor who, as a consequence of the affair, was expelled, though the relationship was to continue for eight more years.

In 1926 Leduc went to Paris and enrolled in the Lycée Racine. She failed her baccalaureat and began working as a telephone operator and secretary at the Plon publishing house. The gay writer Maurice Sachs encouraged her to write, and from 1932 she began a feelance career as a journalist and writer.

In 1939 she married Gabriel Mercier who was then drafted into the army. After WWII, Leduc divorced Mercier. In 1946 Leduc published her first novel, L'asphyxie (In the Prison of Her Skin), aided by Simone de Beauvoir, whom she had met and with whom she had fallen in love. De Beauvoir did not reciprocate emotionally but mentored Leduc as a writer.

Leduc published several other novels before she achieved acclaim and commercial sucess with the autobiographical La bâtarde in 1964. The commercial success of this book enabled Leduc to buy a house in Faucon in the Vaucluse region. There she wrote the second and third volumes of her autobiography. She developed breast cancer of which she died after two operations.

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Source: excerpts from: Gabriele Griffin, Who's Who in Lesbian and Gay and Writing, Routledge, London, 2002

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