BiographyManosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
French novelist Jean Giono was born in a small town in the French Alps in 1895. His grandfather was an officer in the French army who took part in the brutal French campaign against the Spanish guerrillas, then turned against his government, was tried and sentenced to death and escaped by hiding in the mountains, where Jean was later born. Giono dropped out of school at 16 years of age; his father, who had married and fathered children late in his life, was old and ill, and Jean had to work to support the family. Read more... the outbreak of World War I, fought at the battle of Verdun--one of the bloodiest in history--and left the army at war's end. He began writing soon afterwards, and in 1921 his poem "Sous le Pied Chaud du Soleil" was published in a Marseilles journal, and in 1924 it was published as a book. Four years later his short story "Champs" was published, and over the next few years several of his novels were published (his 1931 novel "Lovers Are Never Losers" won the Prix Brentano prize). His experiences during World War I apparently turned him into a pacifist, and in 1934 he joined a French political organization to fight what he saw as the march towards war, and especially fascism, in France; in 1939, after France had declared war on Germany, he was arrested by the French government for urging the populace to oppose the war and refuse to fight in it. He died in his native Manosque, France, in 1970.