Violette Leduc was born the illegitimate daughter of a domestic servant and was raised in Valenciennes. Her education was interrupted by World War I, but after the war she attended boarding school. In 1926, she moved to Paris and and enrolled in the Lycée Racine. She failed her baccalaureate exam, and began working as a telephone operator and secretary at Plon, a publishing firm. Leduc became part of the Existentialist circle that included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Nathalie Sarraute, and Maurice Sachs. They encouraged her writing and she became a novelist. Many of her books were sexually explicit and considered shocking in their day. Leduc also published a controversial autobiography entitled "La Bâtarde" (The Bastard) in 1964, which became a bestseller. She died at age 65 of breast cancer.