VIOLETTE LEDUC (1907–1972) was a French author, best known for her semi-autobiographical feminist masterpiece La Bâtarde. Leduc was born in Arras, the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl. Spending a lonely childhood mainly in boarding school, she left for Paris at the age of nineteen where she began work at a Publishing house. Simon de Beauvoir took Leduc on as a protegé and was instrumental in the publication of her first novel l’Asphyxie (In the Prison of Her Skin) in 1946. Although ignored by the general public, it was immediately recognised as an important work by the French Literary establishment with whom she kept company. Her later books L'Affamé, Ravages and Les Boutons Dorés all earned high praise from the likes of Cocteau, Sartre, Camus and Simon de Beauvoir. Leduc would find herself attracted to De Beauvoir, who would reject her sexual advances. About her attraction to De Beauvoir, Leduc wrote: “She has explained that the feeling I have for her is a mirage. I don’t agree.” After the publication of La Bâtarde in 1964, Leduc's readership greatly expanded. Her novel La Femme au Petit Renard (The Lady and the Little Fox Fur) became an immediate best-seller. She died of breast cancer in 1972.
"When a transparent, secret, provoking, enthralling book appeared – Violette Leduc’s L’Asphyxie – I was startled: a writer had emerged. Camus, Cocteau, Genet and Sartre shared my emotion. From the first, we expected much of Violette Leduc." – Simone de Beauvoir
"The lived feminism of Leduc – raw, passionate, and devastatingly honest" – Rafia Zakaria, The Guardian