French author and aviator Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger de Saint-Exupéry was born on June 29, 1900. He’s best known for his children’s book Le Petit Prince. Son of a noble family, Saint-Exupéry was just a middling student. During his mandatory military service, he became a pilot. He got a job flying the mail from France to Senegal and South America. Saint-Exupéry’s experiences as a pilot inspired his earliest novels. In the 30s, he switched to writing full-time and became increasingly interested in humanism.
During World War II, Saint-Exupéry became a reconnaissance pilot. When France signed the armistice with Germany, he continued to fly sorties on behalf of the Resistance, scouting out places in Provence for a possible Allied landing. His plane was lost at sea on July 31, 1944 but only found in 2004.
His most famous work was published in New York just before his death and features Saint-Exupéry’s own watercolors. The charm and humanity of this story about friendship and what is really important in life quickly made it a huge international success. One of the most famous lines is, “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” (ohn nuh vwa been kavek luh kur, lay-sen-see-ell et in-vee-zee-bluh poor lays yuh), which means “One only sees well with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes.”