No story is more beloved by children and grown-ups alike than this wise, enchanting fable. One day, the author reminisces, when his plane was forced down in the Sahara, a thousand miles from help, he encountered a most extraordinary small person. "If you please, " said the stranger, "draw me a sheep." And thus begins the remarkable history of the Little Prince.
Writer and aviator, Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry was born on 29 June, 1900 in Lyon, France.
Saint-Exupéry studied architecture at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. In 1921, he began his military service with the light cavalry, and trained as a pilot in Strasbourg. A year later he obtained his license and was offered transfer to the airforce.
Due to objections from the family of his fiancée, Saint-Exupéry instead took an office job in Paris. His engagement to Leveque de Vilmorin was not to last, and for the next few years he had a series of unsuccessful jobs.
By 1926, Saint-Exupéry resumed his love for flying, and he became one of the pioneers of international postal flight. Saint-Exupéry's career as an aviator was flourishing and by 1929, he became director of Cape Juby airfield in Morocco, then moved to South America being appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina Company.
In the same year, he wrote his first book, Southern Mail. His first major work, Night Flight was published in 1931.
On December 30, 1945, Saint-Exupéry and his navigator, André Prévot, embarked on a record-breaking attempt to fly from Paris to Saigon. Nineteen and a half hours into the flight, their plane crashed in the Sahara desert. Both survived the crash but spent three days battling dehydration, limited food and hallucinations. On the fourth day, they were rescued by a camel-riding Bedouin. In part, this experience was the inspiration for The Little Prince, which begins with a pilot being marooned in the desert.
Saint-Exupéry continued to fly until World War II, during which he took self-imposed exile. He retreated to New York and stayed in the village of Asharoken, Long Island where he spent the summer and autumn writing The Little Prince. The manuscript was completed by October 1942.
On 31 July 1944, a year after his book was published, Saint-Exupéry disappeared over the Mediterranean while flying a reconnaissance mission for his French air squadron, the Armée de l'Air.