Jaan Kross was born in Tallinn in 1920. He studied law at the University of Tartu and taught law until his arrest and deportation, with countless other Estonians, to Siberia in 1946. He, on his release in 1954, returned to Tallinn and devoted himself to poetry and to translating the classics, including Shakespeare, Balzac and Stefan Zweig. Later, his interest in Estonia's chequered history made him turn his attention to the historical novel, and he established his reputation as one of Europe's outstanding practitioners of this genre. He was regarded as an Estonian writer of world class. He died in December 2007. On its publication in France, The Czar's Madman won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger.