Albert Camus was born in 1913 in Mondovi near Bône (now Annaba) in eastern Algeria. His father was in the wine trade but was killed in World War I in 1914, so his son never knew him. Camus and his brother were bought up in relative poverty in the Belcourt district of Algiers. He was a keen football player and played for the University of Algiers team (in goal) which he attended. However, a bout of tuberculosis ended his football career. In 1934 he joined the Communist Party because of the situation in Spain and married Simone Hie (they would later divorce) and graduated from the University the following year. Initially, he was involved in theatre and worked as a journalist and he always said that the theatre was his preferred medium. His first work was a theatrical production (Révolte dans les Asturies [Revolt in Asturias]), written with three others. Though it was published, the Mayor of Algiers banned its performance.
Because of his health, he could not serve in the army during the war. He married again in 1940 and published L'Etranger (UK: The Outsider; US: The Stranger) in 1942. During the war, he served in the resistance in Paris and worked for the underground newspaper Combat where he met Sartre. He stayed in Paris after the war and though he was a friend of Sartre, he alienated him with his strong criticism of communism. His publication of L'Homme révolté (The Rebel) led to a final break with Sartre. He continued to publish essays, drama and the occasional novel, and to take a strong left-wing, anti-communist stand, criticizing the Soviet Union. During the Algerian War, he took an ambiguous attitude, not least because his mother was still living there. In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was killed in a car crash in 1960.
He will, of course, be remembered for his two major novels, for his association with existentialism and for being one of the French left-wing intellectuals, who took strong stands on many issues in the post-war period. However, it may well be that his essays are equally as important, both in translating existentialism into something more readable than its main philosophical proponents had produced as well as for propounding a philosophy on how humans need to deal with life with all its absurdities, randomness and ultimate meaninglessness.