Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris to a devoutly Catholic bourgeois family. She was educated at a convent boarding school and originally wanted to become a nun; however, she lost her faith at age 14. After passing her baccalaureate exams, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique and literature and languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie, before entering the Sorbonne to study philosophy. She wrote her thesis on Leibniz. She sat in on courses at the École Normale Supérieure to prepare for the agrégation (postgrad exam) in philosophy, and it was there that she met Jean-Paul Sartre. De Beauvoir became a teacher, intellectual, and well-known writer, beginning with her first novel, She Came to Stay (1943). She also produced philosophical essays, plays, memoirs, travel diaries, and newspaper articles, and served as an editor of the influential literary review Les Temps modernes. She won the Prix Goncourt for her 1954 novel The Mandarins. De Beauvoir became a key figure in the struggle for women's rights in France and worldwide, sparked by her feminist work The Second Sex (1949). With her lifelong companion Sartre, she was a central player in the important philosophical debates of the 20th century.