Francine duPlessix Gray
writer, literary critic
born September 25, 1930
Francine du Plessix Gray is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, a literary critic and a memoir writer. She is the author of biographies of many a famous person, including Simone Weil, Germaine de Staël and Marquis de Sade.
Francine du Plessix Gray - The French Refugee
Francine du Plessix Gray was born in Warsaw, Poland, to the family of the French diplomat Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix and his wife Tatyana Iacovleff (Yakovleva), who escaped the Bolshevik persecutions after the October coup of 1917.
After fleeing from Russia Tatyana Yakovleva settled in Paris, where she had a romance with the famous Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and even engaged him. However, after meeting Vicomte du Plessix, Tatyana broke off the engagement and left for Poland with her new husband.
Francine grew up in Paris, mixing with the artistic crowd. In 1940 her father, then a pilot of the French National Airforce, was shot down and killed by Germans near the Gibraltar.
Her mother kept the news of her husband's death from the daughter for almost a year, which broke the trust of the girl to her only remaining parent...
Soon, however, the girl found a new father. Her mother married Rusian immigrant Alexander Liberman
, talented painter, photographer, and sculptor, as well as a renown magazine editor, who dedicated more than three decades of his life to the famous New York publication Condé Nast, holding leading artistic positions.
Liberman deeply cared both for his wife, and for his daughter-in-law. He went to great risks, trying to get them out of the Nazi-occupied Paris, and succeeded: the family crossed into Portugal, reached Lisbon and sailed to New York! In 1952 Francine became an American citizen...
Most of the time Francine lived separately from her parents in New York, staying with relatives. She was supposed to be taken care of by home helpers, but in reality she was simply an abandoned kid who would faint in a public library because she, the daughter of wealthy parents, had not had either breakfast or lunch that day! The alienation was so deep, that many years later she would even publish memoirs about her parents, named simply "Them"...
In 1957 Francine du Plessix Gray married the painter Cleve Gray, giving birth to two sons.
Francine worked as an editor in The New Yorker magazine, was a visiting professor of City College of the City University of New York, a popular freelance writer and lecturer on literature. She also penned biographies of some of history's most prominent figures, including Simone Weil, Germaine de Staël and Marquis de Sade.
Because of her talents as an author and journalist, she was nominated for the Pulitzer prize, and won the Guggenheim fellowship.
Mcalpin, Heller (2005-05-22). "Living lives of glamour in the midst of chaos". Los Angeles Times.
"Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix". Ordre de la Libération, 2004-07-07
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