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Happy birthday to the creator of 'The Little Prince'

June 29, 2012 | 11:13 am

On this day 112 years ago, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of "The Little Prince," was born in Lyon, France
On this day 112 years ago, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born into an aristocratic family in Lyon, France. His father died when Saint-Exupéry was a child, which threw the family into much-reduced financial circumstances. He trained as an airman and went to work as a commercial pilot in Europe, South America and Africa.

It was while flying over Africa in a 1935 air race that Saint-Exupéry had the experience that would lead to his most lasting book, "Le Petit Prince," or "The Little Prince." He and his navigator crashed in the Sahara Desert with little food and no water -- but, with the flair of the French, they did have coffee and some wine. Severe dehydration led to hallucinations; after four days, they were rescued by a Bedouin.

The desert crash became the start of "The Little Prince," which was published in 1943; the children's book, which Saint-Exupéry wrote and illustrated, has sold more than 80 million copies in 190 languages.

To celebrate the anniversary of Saint-Exupéry's birth, the Christian Science Monitor has gathered 10 quotes that are attributed to him, including:

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

From "The Little Prince": "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Saint-Exupéry's plane was lost in 1944, when he was flying for the Free French Air Force on the side of the Allies. He remains a beloved figure in France, where his face and art appeared on the 50-franc note; the Lyon airport is named for him.


March 2: Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Feb. 22: Happy birthday, Edward Gorey!

Original artwork from "The Little Prince" and Salinger's signature in Texas

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Antoine de Saint-Exupery with his wife, Consuelo, in 1936. Credit: Associated Press