Nobel Laureate Albert Camus

Though he is noted more as being a French author and philosopher, Albert Camus was in fact born and raised in Algeria. This extraordinary man sent many intellectuals into frenzy over his ideas and concepts and he was the second youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Albert Camus was born in Mondovi, Algeria, to a French Algerian settler family. His mother was of Spanish descent while his father was a local. When his father died in the Battle of Marne in 1914 just one year after Camus’ birth, he was thrown into a world of poverty. He spent his childhood living in the poverty-stricken Belcourt section of Algiers while his mother did her best to eke out a living. Nevertheless she worked hard to ensure that he got a good education. In 1923 Albert Camus was accepted into the lycée and later he was able to further his education at the University of Algiers. His studies were supported by his activities as a football (soccer) goalkeeper for the university team. Unfortunately this ended in 1930 after Camus contracted tuberculosis and was forced to stop playing the sport. He continued his studies part time and took on odd jobs as a private tutor, a car parts clerk and he even did work for the Meteorological Institute.

Shortly after finishing his education, Camus started to get involved with politics. In 1934 he married Simone Hie, a woman who was addicted to morphine, but neither was faithful and the marriage soon ended. Just one year after his first marriage, he founded the Théâtre du Travail (Worker’s Theatre) which eventually closed in 1939. He also started working for newspapers, expressing his views on a number of different matters. In 1940, Albert Camus married a second time to Francine Faure who was a pianist and a mathematician. Though he loved her, he was not faithful and Francine stuck by him for many years despite the fact that several of his affairs were public knowledge. With the world in a turmoil leading up to World War II, Camus was exposed to many of the crude realities of life that saw him get involved in politics once more. He returned to Oran, Algeria, briefly in 1942, but otherwise spent most of his time in Europe writing and producing several brilliant literary works. He also did a lot of humanitarian work in the 1950s.

Albert Camus was the first African-born writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is also the shortest-lived literature laureate, since he died in a car accident only three years after being given the award. His ideas on ‘the absurd’ and publications like ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ and ‘The Stranger and The Plague’ caused a lot of controversy and caused many to assign him to a certain school of thought. However, Camus also argued that he was not a member of any school or ideology, but rather that he was a man with his own thoughts and ideas. His memory will continue to live on in the many inspirational writings that he produced during his short life.