The French author Annie Ernaux was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2022 “for the courage and clinical precision with which she discovers the roots, estrangements, and collective restrictions of personal memory.” The Swedish Academy announced it on October 6, 2022. Ernaux is the 16th French writer to earn the prize, the first Frenchwoman, and the 17th female author.
Annie Thérèse Blanche Ernaux (née Duchesne; born September 1, 1940) is a French author and professor of literature. Her literary work, mostly autobiographical, maintains close links with sociology.
Ernaux grew up in the Normandy town of Yvetot. She is from a working-class family. Her parents later bought a café and a grocery shop. She attended the universities of Rouen and Bordeaux, where she earned a teaching certificate and a higher degree in modern literature (1971).
In 1960, she moved to London to work as an au pair, an experience she recounted in her 2016 memoir, Mémoire de fille (A Girl’s Story).
Her writing career began in 1974 with the autobiographical novel Les Armoires vides (“Cleaned Out”). She dropped fiction early in her career to concentrate on autobiography, combining historical and personal experiences.
Ernaux began to teach in the early 1970s at a lycée in Bonneville, Haute-Savoie, then at the Évire College in Annecy-le-Vieux, and then in Pontoise, before joining the National Centre for Distance Education (Centre national d’enseignement à distance – CNED), where she worked for 23 years.
Her books have a significant readership and are reviewed in most local and national newspapers in France, as well as being the subject of numerous radio and television interviews and programmes, as well as a large and growing international academic literature. Her most notable pieces include La Place (“A Man’s Place,” 1983), L’événement (“Happening,” 2000), L’Occupation (“The Possession,” 2002), and Les Années (“The Years,” 2008).