Jules Romains was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885, in Saint-Julien-Chapteuil, a village in the Velay region of France. His parents, Henri Farigoule and Marie Richier, both came from Velay families. His father, however, had become a schoolteacher in the Montmartre district of Paris, and while Louis was still an infant, the family returned to Paris, where he spent his childhood.
A brilliant student, he studied at the Lycée Condorcet and then at the estimated École Normale Supérieure. During his school years, he read widely and began to write, producing his first volume of poetry, L’Âme des hommes, when he was eighteen years old, under the pseudonym Jules Romains. He associated with, but did not join, the Abbey group of young poets and artists, who published his volume of poetry La Vie unanime in 1908.
In 1909, already established as an author, he began his teaching career. He taught at Brest and then at Laon until the war. In 1912, he married Gabrielle Gaffé. By the outbreak of World War I, he had published several volumes of poetry, a play (L’Armée dans la ville), and two novels (Death of a Nobody and The Boys in the Back Room) and was a leading literary figure.
Romains had served his obligatory year of military service after leaving school in 1905 in an infantry regiment at Pithviers. He had disliked army life, and when the war broke out in 1914, he served in...
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