Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in 1900 in Lyons, France. He completed his early education in France and Switzerland. Unable to clear his final exam at a university preparatory school, he enrolled himself at the École des Beaux-Arts to study Architecture. After failing the entrance exam for the Naval Academy, he decided to go for aviation. In 1921, he joined the French Air Force where he first learned to fly a plane. Five years later, he left the French Air Force to begin flying air mail between remoter settlements in the Sahara desert.

When World War II broke out, Saint-Exupéry rejoined the French Air Force. After Nazi troops occupied France in 1940, Saint-Exupéry fled to the United States. He had hoped to join the U.S. war effort as a fighter pilot, but was turned down because of his age. Instead, he drew upon his experiences in the Sahara desert to write and illustrate what would become his most famous book, The Little Prince (1943).

Shortly after completing the book, Saint-Exupéry returned to North Africa to fly a warplane for his country. On July 31, 1944, Saint-Exupéry took off on a mission. He was never seen again.