Françoise Mallet-Joris is the nom de plume of Françoise Lilar, born in Antwerp, Belgium. Her parents were the writer Suzanne Lilar and her husband Albert Lilar, who served as Belgian Minister of Justice and Minister of State. Art historian Marie Fredericq-Lilar was her paternal aunt. Françoise began writing at a young age and published her first work, Poème du dimanche (Sunday Poem), at age 16. She attended the Sorbonne in Paris and while there published her 1951 novel Le rempart des Béguines (translated in English as The Illusionist, also as Into the Labyrinth and The Loving and the Daring), under the pseudonym Françoise Mallet. She later added the hyphenated Joris to her surname to make it sound more Belgian. The Illusionist was adapted as a film with her screenplay in 1972. Other novels include La chambre rouge (1955, also adapted into a film), L'Empire céleste (1958) and Allegra (1976). She also wrote short stories collected in Cordélia (1956). She has written novelized biographies, Les Personnages (The Favorite, 1960), and The Uncompromising Heart: A Life of Marie Mancini, Louis XIV's First Love (1964); as well as a biography of Jeanne Guyon (1978), the 17th-century French mystic. She written autobiographical works about her philosophy of life and writing in Lettre à moi-même (A Letter to Myself, 1963) and La Maison de papier (The Paper House, 1970). She has written lyrics for singer Marie-Paule Belle, and the libretto for an unpublished opera, Caryl Chessman, with music by José Berghmans. She has been married to Robert Amadou, Alain Joxe, and Jacques Delfau, and has four children. She served as a member of the Prix Femina jury from 1969 to 1971. That year, she was unanimously elected to the Académie Goncourt. Since 1993, she has been a member of the Académie royale de langue et de littérature françaises of Belgium.