Muriel Barbery was born in Morocco and raised in France. She studied at the Lycée Lakanal and in 1993, obtained her agrégation in philosophy from the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud. She has taught philosophy at the Université de Bourgogne, the Saint-Lô IUFM, a teacher training college, and also at a lycée.
Her second novel L'Élégance du hérisson (The Elegance of the Hedgehog, 2006) was a bestseller in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and many other countries. The book was adapted into a film called Le hérisson (The Hedgehog), released in 2009.