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Gertrud von Le Fort was born in Minden, Germany, the daughter of an aristocratic Prussian Army officer of Swiss Huguenot descent. She was educated in Hildesheim, and studied at the universities of Heidelberg, Marburg and Berlin. In 1926, she converted to the Roman Catholic faith, and much of her subsequent writing focused on the struggle between faith and conscience. In 1931, she published a novella, Die Letzte am Schafott; an English translation called The Song at the Scaffold appeared in 1933 and became the inspiration for the opera Dialogues of the Carmelites (1957) by Francis Poulenc. During her career, she published more than 20 novels and collections of short stories and poems.
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