Paris - French author Maurice Druon, a former culture minister and fighter for France's World War II resistance movement, died Tuesday aged 90, the Academie francaise announced. Druon, author of numerous novels, was hailed by President Nicolas Sarkozy as "grand scribe and a grand soul."He is best known for Les Rois Maudits, or The Accused Kings, a series of historical novels published in the 1950s. Born on April 23, 1918 in Paris to a Russian-born father, Druon was regarded a language purist, protector of French traditions and outspoken opponent of anglicisms invading the French language. The writer joined the French Resistance against Nazi Germany's occupation and co-wrote Le Chant de Partisans, the movement's anthem. In 1966 we was elected to the Academie francaise to succeed Georges Duhamel. Duron served as culture minister from 1973-74.
When I was a teenager I used to devour his "Accursed Kings" series. Between him and Alexander Duma Sr. I used to know most of the French dynasty starting with Philip the Fair. There was just something exciting and profoundly sad in his stories of the French Kings. Unlike Duma, who tended to prefer a more dramatic approach, Druon painted his novels in a more historically correct light. I have an anniversary edition of some of his books, but he detailed the fall of the French Capetian dynasty until the third Valois king took over.