Simenon was born in 1903 in Liège. He started off as a newspaper reporter for the French-language La Gazette de Liège, before moving to Paris in 1922 to seek his fortune as a writer. Within five years he had established himself (under various pseudonyms) as a writer of popular fiction.
In 1931, he published the first novels using his own name. The first novel featuring his creation Inspector Maigret was launched on 20 February, 1931 at a huge ball (the ‘ bal anthropometrique' ) that was reported in the French national press and secured Simenon’s popular fame.
Simenon lived in France until 1945 and then moved to the USA for a decade, before returning to Europe and settling in Switzerland where he died in 1989. During his career, he produced on average four or five novels a year, alternating between the much-loved Maigret detective novels and more serious works. He enjoyed critical and commercial success, and was elected a member of the Belgian Royal Academy, President of the Mystery Writers of America Association in 1952 and President of the Jury at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. He was also made a member of the French Légion d’honneur.
Simenon's estimated 450 novels and short stories have been translated into 55 languages and have sold approximately 1.4 billion copies.
The pipe-smoking Inspector Maigret has also appeared in 55 feature films and a staggering 279 television dramas! Indeed, these films and television programmes are the reason Maigret is a familiar figure to millions of people who have never read one of the original 75 novels or 28 short stories.
In 2000, Simenon was voted one of the five most important twentieth-century French-language authors, and he came tenth in the Walloon election of the “Greatest Belgian” for a television programme in 2005.
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