Jean Genet, the poet-thief and one of the 20th century's most enduring gay icons was born in Paris in 1910. An illegitimate child accused of stealing from his foster parents Genet at the age of 10 was sent to a reform school and spent most of his youth in the all-male communal life of harshly disciplinarian reformatories, including Mettray. In the 1930s, he was variously a deserter, a vagrant who begged his way across Europe, a prostitute, a thief and one of the dispossessed. Learning that imagination was a tool the authorities couldn't suppress, he emerged in 1942 from a series of prison stays with the first of his extraordinarily subversive novels, Our Lady of the Flowers. Taken up by Cocteau and Sartre Genet quickly became a legend to the underworld for his novels The Miracle of the Rose, Funeral Rites, Querelle of Brest and The Thief's Journal, all of which fused an inherent romanticism with the celebration of crime.
An enigmatic, flagrantly controversial figure, whose creativity was largely extinguished by the 1950s, Genet lived his life as an itinerant outsider and in the 1970s became a spokesman for the Black Panthers, and finally championed the struggle for a Palestinian homeland, writing his last posthumously published book A Prisoner of Love in defence of their cause.; The only biographical and critical study of Jean Genet in print; Illustrated throughout; National press coverage, full online promotion