Literary Legend Jules Roy

Algerian-French writer, Jules Roy was born in the village of Rovigo in Algeria on 22 October 1907. Jules Roy was well respected as a prolific and outspoken writer and recognized as one of the mainstays of literature relating to the French experience in Algeria. He drew from his experiences of growing up in Algeria and his career in the French air force as a basis for a number of his works.

Jules Roy wrote of his childhood in Algeria, spent with his beloved mother and grandmother. He also wrote of his close friendship with the family servant Meftah and dedicated one of his last works, written in 1996, to this much-loved humble and illiterate peasant. He expressed his appreciation for having grown up among people who loved him and accepted him unconditionally. His grandmother particularly featured in his life as someone who had confidence in him that he could achieve whatever he set his mind to. His early life spent in Algeria among people who worked hard to make a living from the land and shared their sorrows and joys unreservedly with one another, shaped the way he would express himself in his literary works.

During his five years spent at the Roman Catholic seminary in Algiers, Jules Roy for a time contemplated joining the priesthood. However, his love of the world and all it had to offer, including female company, soon chased thoughts of a life of abstinence from his mind and he started his adult working life in the air force. During World War II, Jules Roy commanded a Royal Air Force squadron that had the mission of bombing the Ruhr Basin in Western Germany. He vividly described these missions in his book “La Vallée heureuse”, for which he was awarded the Renaudor Prize in 1946. In 1953, in protest of the French government’s policies in the First Indochina War, Roy resigned from the army – he was a colonel at the time – and thereafter devoted his time to writing.

Jules Roy had a unique way of analyzing events and relationships, with some considering him to be a little too straightforward and intense. Be that as it may, he certainly was a noteworthy novelist, essayist, poet and playwright and a man who lived life to the full – from his humble beginnings in a village in Algeria right up until his death in Vezelay, France on 15 June 2000.