French writer and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol was born on February 28, 1895 in Aubagne in the south of France. The son of a teacher and seamstress, Pagnol had a profound love of nature developed in the arid hills north of Marseille. He became a teacher himself but was lured to the world of a playwright when he moved to Paris. From there it was a logical progression to being a filmmaker. In 1946, Pagnol became the first filmmaker ever elected to the Académie Française. After the death of his wife, he sought solace in writing a series of autobiographical books, such as La Gloire de mon père, adapted in a 1990 film of the same name. A second series focused on provençal fam life. The film versions of those books, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources made the career of Daniel Auteuil. Pagnol died on April 18, 1974 and is buried in Marseille, in the shadow of his beloved hills.
Today’s expression, avoir plusieurs cordes à son arc (awar ploozyur kord ah sohn ark) means “to have several strings to his bow.” It refers to being multi-talented, like Marcel Pagnol. He’s a good example of writing about what you know, and it has resulted in charming 20th Century French literature of enduring popularity.