Family tree of Pierre BOULLE


FrenchBorn Pierre BOULLE

French novelist

Born on February 22, 1912 in Avignon, France , France

Died on January 30, 1994 in Paris, France

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Born in Avignon, France, Boulle was baptised and raised as a Catholic, although later in life he was an agnostic. He studied at the prestigious École supérieure d'électricité (Supélec) where he received an engineer's degree in 1933. From 1936 to 1939, he worked as a technician on British rubber plantations in Malaya. While there he met a Frenchwoman who was separated from her husband. She was to become the love of his life, to whom he would write tender love letters. She later chose to return to her husband, an official in French Indochina. During World War II she and her husband escaped into Malaya, but one of her children died in the process. Boulle would later meet her after the war, and they enjoyed a platonic friendship.

At the outbreak of World War II, Boulle enlisted with the French army in Indochina. After German troops occupied France, he joined the Free French Mission in Singapore. During the war he was a supporter of Charles de Gaulle.


Boulle served as a secret agent under the name Peter John Rule and helped the resistance movement in China, Burma, and French Indochina. In 1943, he was captured by Vichy France loyalists on the Mekong River and was subjected to severe hardship and forced labour. He was later made a chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur and decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance. He described his war experiences in the non-fiction My Own River Kwai. After the war he would keep in touch with his war comrades for the rest of his life.

For a while after the war, Boulle returned to work in the rubber industry, but in 1949 he moved back to Paris and began to write. While in Paris, too poor to afford his own flat, he lived in a hotel until his recently widowed sister, Madeleine Perrusset, allowed him to move into her large apartment. She had a daughter, Françoise, whom Pierre helped raise, but plans for him to officially adopt the girl never materialized. He could never bring himself to leave this family and form another one, so he did not get married.

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Geographical origins

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