Glossary entry for
Beckett, Samuel

Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906-1989) was born near Dublin on April 13, 1906. He had an uneventful childhood and as a young man, he studied modern languages at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in 1927. Beckett then spent two years (1928-1930) teaching English at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. After returning to Trinity College for a year of graduate work in 1931, he taught French there in 1931-1932. He spent the next few years wandering in London and through France and Germany, contributing stories and poems to avant-grade periodicals, before settling in Paris in 1937.

Early in World War II, during the German occupation of France, the Gestapo discovered Beckett's activities in connection with the French resistance movement, and he was compelled to flee to the unoccupied zone about 1942. He found sanctuary at Roussillon in the Vaucluse department. After the war he returned to Paris and began writing in earnest. Although Waiting for Godot brought him international fame after 1952, as translations and productions of the play proliferated throughout the world, he continued to lead an utterly secluded life. He was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in literature. He died in Paris on Dec. 22, 1989.

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