Alain-Fournier was born Henri Alban Fournier, the son of two school teachers, on 3 October 1886 in La Chapelle d'Anguillonin France. He studied at a boarding school in Paris, at the naval college in Brest, and also at the lycée Lakanalin Sceaux, where he met his lifelong friend, the critic Jacque Rivière. In 1905 Fournier had a chance meeting with Yvonne de Quiévrecourt and fell instantly in love. This meeting was the inspiration for Le Grand Meaulnes, though the novel was not finished until Fournier had completed his military service in 1913. While working as a columnist and private tutor, Fournier was called up to fight in the First World War. He was killed in action at Vaux-lès-Palameix in 1914, though his body was not formally identified until 1991. Le Grand Meaulnes is his only finished novel. Valerie Lester is the author of Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens (2004) and Fasten Your Seat Belts!History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (1996).She has published essays and poems in various venues including The Atlantic Monthly, Airways Magazine, and The New Dictionary of National Biography.She first tried translating Le Grand Meaulnes as a teenager at school in Switzerland, and finished the job half a century later.