Alain Robbe-Grillet was born in 1922 in Saint-Pierre-Quilbignon, now part of Brest. His father was an engineer, who owned a small factory. His parents were atheists and extreme right-wing sympathisers. He attended the Institut National d'Agronomie but his studies were cut short when he was forcibly recruited under the German occupation to work as a lathe operator in a German tank factory. After the war he worked as a an agronomist, including spells overseas. However, he became ill and never returned to his profession, taking up full-time writing. In 1957 he married Cathérine Rstakian, an actress who has also published novels. He wrote his first novel in 1948 but it was not published till 1978. In 1951, his first published novel - Les Gommes (The Erasers) - won an award and he was able to make a career as a writer.
He is now best known as one of the major writers. Robbe-Grillet was not only a writer of this kind of novel but also wrote about it and was an editorial director of Editions de Minuit, the publisher that published Robbe-Grillet and many other nouveau roman writers. The basic principles of the Nouveau Roman were that plot, character and narrative were old-fashioned. First to go was the traditional role of the narrator, with the author intervening in the plot if that was felt necessary. Traditional characters also were questioned, with the focus on things, which created, they said, a new realism. Characters, when they appeared, often appeared as streams of consciousness. Political commitment, as found in Sartre, Camus and other French writers was rejected.