Jacqueline Harpman was born in Etterbeek, Belgium, in 1929. Being half Jewish, the family moved to Casablanca when the Nazis invaded, and returned home after the war. After studying French literature she started training to be a doctor, but could not complete her medical studies when she contracted tuberculosis. She turned to writing in 1954 and her first work was published in 1958. In 1980 she qualified as a psychoanalyst. She had given up writing after her fourth book was published, and resumed her career as a novelist only some twenty years later. She has now written twelve novels and won several literary prizes, most recently the Médicis for the present novel. She is married to an architect and has two children.