Francis Steegmuller was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1906, and educated in the public schools of Greenwich and at Columbia University. He was the author of many works about French culture and its great literary figures; translator of Gustave Flaubert’s letters and of the Modern Library edition of Madame Bovary. He was the recipient of many literary honors, including the National Book Award for his biography of Jean Cocteau, and he was a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Steegmuller divided his life between New York City and Europe. In 1963, he married the novelist Shirley Hazzard. He died in Naples in 1994.