Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) was a French writer, aviator, poet and author. Raised in an aristocratic family, he fell in love with aviation at an early age after took his first airplane ride at the age of 12. He received his pilot’s wings during his compulsory military service in 1922, around which time he also began to write.
In 1935 Saint-Exupéry attempted to break the air-speed record between Paris and Saigon. En route, his plane crashed in the Sahara, and he and his copilot wandered the desert for days, nearly dying of exposure and dehydration before being rescued by a wandering Bedouin. Saint-Exupéry’s 1939 memoir “Wind, Sand and Stars,” which includes an account of the events, surpassed the success of his earlier works, winning the prestigious Grand Prize for Novel Writing from the Académie Française and the National Book Award in the United States.
His adventures as a pilot would supply the inspiration for all of his literary endeavors, which culminated with the 1943 publication of the classic The Little Prince.