Maurice Druon

Maurice Druon

Druon in 2003
Born (1918-04-23)23 April 1918
Paris, France
Died 14 April 2009(2009-04-14) (aged 90)
Paris, France
Occupation Novelist
Nationality French
Period 1942–2009
Notable awards   Grand Cross Legion of Honour
  Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  Prix Goncourt
  Commemorative medal for voluntary service in Free France

Maurice Druon (23 April 1918 – 14 April 2009) was a French novelist and a member of the Académie française, of which he served as "Perpetual Secretary" (chairman) between 1985 and 1999.

Life and career

Born in Paris, France, Druon was the son of Russian-Jewish[1] immigrant Lazare Kessel (1899-1920)[2] and was brought up at La Croix-Saint-Leufroy in Normandy and educated at the lycée Michelet de Vanves. His father committed suicide in 1920[2] and his mother remarried in 1926; Maurice subsequently took the name of his adoptive father, the lawyer René Druon (1874-1961).

He was the nephew of the writer Joseph Kessel, with whom he translated the Chant des Partisans, a French Resistance anthem of World War II, with music and words (in Russian) originally by Anna Marly. Druon was a member of the Resistance and came to London in 1943 to participate in the BBC's "Honneur et Patrie" programme.[3]

Druon began writing for literary journals at the age of 18. In September 1939, having been called up for military service, he wrote an article for Paris-Soir entitled "J'ai vingt ans et je pars (I am twenty years old and I am leaving)". Following the fall of France in 1940, he was demobilized and remained in the unoccupied zone of France, and his first play, Mégarée, was produced in Monte Carlo in February 1942. He left the same year to join the forces of Charles de Gaulle. Druon became aide de camp to General François d'Astier de La Vigerie.

In 1948 Druon received the Prix Goncourt for his novel Les Grandes Familles, and later published two sequels.[4][5][6]

Druon was elected to the 30th seat of the Académie française on 8 December 1966, succeeding Georges Duhamel. He was elected as “Perpetual Secretary” in 1985, but chose to resign the office in late 1999 due to old age; he successfully pushed for Hélène Carrère d'Encausse to succeed him, the first woman to do so, and was styled Honorary Perpetual Secretary after 2000. On the death of Henri Troyat on 2 March 2007, he became the Dean of the Académie, its longest-serving member.

While his scholarly writing earned him a seat at the Académie, Druon is best known for a series of seven historical novels published in the 1950s under the title Les Rois maudits (The Accursed Kings). The novels were adapted for French television in 1972, gaining a wider audience through overseas sales, and again in 2005, starring Jeanne Moreau. Fantasy writer George R. R. Martin stated that the novels had been an inspiration for his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and called Druon "France's best historical novelist since Alexandre Dumas, père".[7][8][9]

Druon's only work for children – Tistou les pouces verts – was published in 1957 and translated into English in 1958 (as Tistou of the Green Thumbs) and 2012 (as Tistou: The Boy With Green Thumbs).[10]

Druon was Minister of Cultural Affairs (1973–1974) in Pierre Messmer's cabinet, and a deputy of Paris (1978–1981). He is survived by his second wife, Madeleine Marignac, whom he married in 1968.[2] His wife died in 2016 aged 91. Druon was a descendant of Brazilian author Odorico Mendes.

Les Rois maudits (The Accursed Kings)

Main article: The Accursed Kings

The individual English titles below are from the Scribner English editions as published in the United States, rather than literal translations of the original French titles.

  1. Le Roi de fer (The Iron King)
  2. La Reine étranglée (The Strangled Queen)
  3. Les Poisons de la couronne (The Poisoned Crown)
  4. La Loi des mâles (The Royal Succession)
  5. La Louve de France (The She-Wolf of France)
  6. Le Lys et le lion (The Lily and the Lion)
  7. Quand un Roi perd la France (The King Without a Kingdom)


  • Mégarée, pièce en trois actes, créée au Grand Théâtre de Monte-Carlo (1942)
  • Le Sonneur de bien aller (1943 — novella)
  • Préface d'un chameau en pyjame (1943)
  • Le Chant des Partisans (with Joseph Kessel, 1943)
  • Lettres d’un Européen, essai (1944)
  • La Dernière Brigade, roman (1946)
  • Ithaque délivrée, poème dramatique traduit de l’anglais ; d’après The Rescue d’Edward Sackville-West (1947)
  • Les Grandes Familles (1948)
  • La Chute des corps (Les Grandes Familles, II, 1950)
  • Rendez-vous aux enfers (Les Grandes Familles, III, 1951)
  • Remarques (1952)
  • Un voyageur, comédie en un acte, au répertoire de la Comédie française (1953)
  • Le Coup de grâce, mélodrame en trois actes (with Joseph Kessel, 1953)
  • La Volupté d’être, roman (1954)
  • La Reine étranglée (Les Rois maudits, II, 1955)
  • Le Roi de fer (Les Rois maudits, I, 1955)
  • Les Poisons de la couronne (Les Rois maudits, III, 1956)
  • L'Hôtel de Mondez, nouvelle (1956)
  • La Loi des mâles (Les Rois maudits, IV, 1957)
  • Tistou les pouces verts (1957)
  • Alexandre le Grand (1958)
  • La Louve de France (Les Rois maudits, V, 1959)
  • Le Lis et le lion (Les Rois maudits, VI, 1960)
  • Des Seigneurs de la plaine à l’hôtel de Mondez (1962 — Short story collection)
  • ThéâtreMégarée, Un voyageur, La Contessa (1962)
  • Les Mémoires de Zeus (1963)
  • Bernard Buffet, essai (1964 — Essay)
  • Paris, de César à Saint Louis (1964 — Historical essay)

  • Le Pouvoir, notes et maximes (1965)
  • Les Tambours de la mémoire (1965)
  • Les Rois maudits, roman historique (6 volumes, 1966)
  • Les Mémoires de Zeus, II, roman historique (1967)
  • Le Bonheur des uns, nouvelles (1967)
  • Vézelay, colline éternelle (1968)
  • L'Avenir en désarroi, essai (1968)
  • Grandeur et signification de Leningrad (1968)
  • Lettres d’un Européen et Nouvelles Lettres d’un Européen, 1943-1970 (1970 — essay)
  • Splendeur provençale (1970)
  • Une Église qui se trompe de siècle (1972)
  • La Parole et le Pouvoir (1974)
  • Œuvres complètes (25 volumes with unpublished material, 1977)
  • Quand un roi perd la France (Les Rois maudits, VII, 1977)
  • Attention la France ! (1981)
  • Réformer la démocratie (1982)
  • La Culture et l’État (1985)
  • Vézelay, colline éternelle, nouvelle édition (1987)
  • Lettre aux Français sur leur langue et leur âme (1994)
  • Circonstances (1997)
  • Circonstances politiques, 1954–1974 (1998)
  • Le bon français (1999)
  • Circonstances politiques II, 1974–1998 (1999)
  • La France aux ordres d’un cadavre (2000)
  • Ordonnances pour un État malade (2002)
  • Le Franc-parler (2003)
  • Mémoires. L'aurore vient du fond du ciel (2006)
  • Les mémoires de Zeus (2007)




  1. JINFO. "Jewish Authors". Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Julian Jackson. "Obituary: Maurice Druon". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  3. Francine de Martinoir, « Maurice Druon, mort d’un partisan de la langue française », La Croix, 15 April 2009 (French)
  4. Weber, Bruce (15 April 2009). "Maurice Druon, Prolific Writer, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  5. Lichfield, John (20 April 2009). "Maurice Druon: Writer and pugnacious defender of the French language". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  6. "Gaullist Minister Wrote Popular Anthem". The Washington Post. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. Martin, George R. R. (3 April 2013). "My hero: Maurice Druon by George RR Martin". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  8. Milne, Ben (4 April 2014). "Game of Thrones: The cult French novel that inspired George RR Martin". BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  9. Kamin, Debra (20 May 2014). "The Jewish legacy behind Game of Thrones". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  10. Druon, Maurice (2012). Tistou: The Boy With Green Thumbs. Hawthorn Press. ISBN 978-1-907359-08-8.
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