Raymond Queneau (1903-1976) was born and raised in Le Havre, where his parents owned a haberdasher’s shop. He then moved to Paris to study philosophy. He spent time with the Surrealists in the 1920s. Witch Grass, his first novel, was published in 1933. He joined the Gallimard publishing house in 1938 as a reader, English translator, and later became a member of the reading committee. In 1951 he was elected to the Académie Goncourt and became director of the “Encyclopédie de la Pléiade” in 1956. Zazie in the Metro, a major popular success, was published in 1959.
Raymond Queneau produced extremely rich and diverse works, with hints of romance, poetry and philosophy, in which he particularly proclaimed a freedom of language and its renewal through its spoken form.
Throughout his novels, he referred to his home city in diverse ways. The novel A Hard Winter (1939) is set entirely in Le Havre.