Louis Begley – a novelist and retired lawyer – was born on October 6, 1933, in what was then Poland, in Stryj, a medium-size town about forty-five miles south from Lwów.  Both Stryj and Lwów are now part of Ukraine.  He is an only child.

            Upon the outbreak of World War, Germany occupied western Poland and the Soviet Union occupied the eastern part, including Stryj and Lwów. In the summer of ’41, breaching the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. German troops quickly occupied all of Poland and pushed deep into Soviet territory.  Persecution of Jews intensified, preparatory to their extermination.

Photo by Jill Krementz

Copyright 2003

              LB’s father, a physician, was forced to leave with the retreating Soviet army, and spent most of the war years in Samarkand.  LB’s mother and Louis remained in Stryj, but managed to escape before the Jews of Stryj were locked up in a ghetto.  Using false papers that gave them an “Aryan” and catholic identity, mother and son lived at first in Lwów, and then in Warsaw until the end of the August 1944 Warsaw uprising.  By the time World War II ended, they were in Kraków, where they were reunited with LB’s father.

            During the school year 1945/46, LB attended the Jan Sobieski gimnazjum in Kraków.  It was his first experience of formal instruction.

            In the fall of ’46, the family left Kraków for Paris and, in late February 1947, left Paris for New York City, arriving on March 3.  Shortly afterward, the family name was changed from Begleiter to Begley.

            By the fall of 1948, the family had settled in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. LB began to attend Erasmus Hall High School, from which he graduated in 1950.

            LB entered Harvard College in the fall of that year on a scholarship.  He majored in English literature, and graduated in 1954, summa cum laude.

            Service in the U. S. Army followed, the last eighteen months of it in Göppingen, Germany, with the 9th Division.

            In 1956, LB entered Harvard Law School on a scholarship, graduating in 1959, magna cum laude. Also in 1956, LB married Sally Higginson.  They were divorced in May, 1970.

            In March 1974, LB married his present wife, Anka Muhlstein, born in Paris, whose family had spent the World War II years in New York City and northern Long Island. LB and Anka currently reside in New York City.  LB's father died in 1964 at the age of 65.  His mother died in 2004, at the age of 94.

            LB has three children--Peter, Adam and Amey. Anka has two sons-- Robert and Stéphane Dujarric. There are seven grandchildren. (See below for more about children and grandchildren.)


LB--The Writer

             LB's novels are:

Wartime Lies (1991)

The Man Who Was Late (1993)

As Max Saw It (1994)

About Schmidt (1996)

Mistler’s Exit  (1998)

Schmidt Delivered (2000)

Shipwreck (2003)

Matters of Honor (2007)

Schmidt Steps Back (2012)

Memories of a Marriage (2013)

Killer, Come Hither (2015)

Kill and Be Killed (2016)

The New Life of Hugh Gardner (2020)

           All of LB's novels have been reissued by Ballantine Books. 

           In 2001, a selection of LB's essays and journalistic pieces was published by Suhrkamp Verlag (Frankfurt) under the title Das Gelobte Land.

            Venedig Unter Vier Augen, a book on Venetian themes by Anka Muhlstein and Louis Begley, was published in 2003 by Marebuch Verlag (Hamburg). It was also published in English in 2005 by Haus Publishing under the title Venice for Lovers, and reissued under the same title by Grove Press in the U.S..

            Zwischen Fakten und Fiktionen, the text of LB's lectures given as part of Poetik Dozentur at Heidelberg University in November 2006, was published by Suhrkamp in January 2008.

           The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head, Franz Kafka: A Biographical Essay was published by Atlas & Co. in 2008. 

           Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters was published by Yale University Press in 2009. 

           LB has received the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Fiction Award, the Irish Times – Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize, the Prix Médicis Étranger (all for Wartime Lies); the Harold U. Ribalow Prize; the Jeanette-Schocken-Preis (Bremerhavener Bürgerpreis für Lirteratur); the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature; and the Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung Literaturpreis.  

            LB's novels have been translated into fifteen languages.

            LB was a member of the Board of Trustees of PEN American Center from 1992 to 2001, and American PEN’s President in 1993-95.

            He is a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.    

            The University of Heidelberg conferred on him in 2008 the degree of D. Phil., honoris causa.


LB--The Lawyer

            Upon graduation from the Harvard Law School in 1959, LB went to work for the law firm now known as Debevoise & Plimpton.  At the time, the firm was based only in New York; now it has offices also in Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Hong Kong and Shanghai.  On January 1, 1968, he became a partner in the firm, while serving at the newly established Paris office.  Upon his return to New York, LB headed for many years the firm’s international practice, his work being concentrated on large projects in Australia, Algeria, Latin America, Canada and Europe, for Japanese, European and Brazilian, as well as American clients. LB retired from the firm as of January 1, 2004. 


The Family  


          LB's wife, Anka Muhlstein, is a French writer and the author of twelve works, biographies and literary criticism.

          They are:

          La Femme Soleil, Denoël, Paris, 1976


          Victoria, Gallimard, Paris, 1978


          James de Rothschild, Gallimard, Paris, 1981, published in English translation by Vendôme Press, New York 1985, as Baron James, the Rise of the French Rothschilds.


          Manhattan, Grasset, Paris, 1986


          Cavelier de La Salle, Grasset, 1992, published in English translation by Arcade, New York, 1994, as La Salle, Explorer of the North American Frontier


          Astolphe de Custine, Le dernier marquis, Grasset, Paris, 1996, published in English translation by Helen Marx Books, New York, 1999, as A Passion for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine


          Reines éphémères, mères perpétuelles, Albin Michel, Paris, 2001


          Elizabeth d'Angleterre et Marie Stuart: Les périls du mariage, Albin Michel, Paris 2004


          Napoléon à Moscou was published by Éditions Odile Jacob (Paris) in 2008.


           Balzac's Omelet published by Other Press, New York, in 2011, by Arche, Hamburg, in 2011, and by Éditions Odile Jacob, Paris, in 2010.


          Mr. Proust's Library was published in October 2012 by Other Press and by Éditions Odile Jacob, Paris, in 2013.


           The Pen and the Brush, was published by Éditions Odile Jacob, Paris, in 2016 and was published by Other Press, New York, in 2017.


          Her forthcoming book, a biography of the impressionist, Camille Pissarro, will be published in France in 2022, and in the US in 2023 by Other Press, New York. 


           Anka received the History Prize of the French Academy in 1981 and in 1992, and the Goncourt Prize for Biography in 1996.


            The Children:

            Peter Begley, a painter and a sculptor, lives in Paris.  Peter’s work can be seen at Peter is married to Anne Bazin-Begley, a French specialist in Central European international relations.  They have two children, Jacob and Elisabeth.

          Adam Begley, a writer, lives in Northamptonshire, England.  He is married to Anne Cotton.  Adam's biography of John Updike, Updike, was published by Harper Collins on April 8, 2014. His The Great Nadar:The Man Behind the Camera was published by Tim Duggan Books in 2017.

           LB's daughter Amey, a novelist and art historian, is married to Charles Larmore, W. Duncan MacMillan Professor of Philosophy, at Brown University.  They have two children, Nicholas and Julia.  Amey and Charles live in Providence, R.I.. Under her pen name Laura Moore, Amey is the author of eleven novels, Ride A Dark Horse, Chance Meeting, Night Swimming, In Your Eyes, her Rosewood trilogy, Remember Me, Believe in Me and Trouble Me, the Silver Creek trilogy, Once Tempted, Once Tasted, and Once Touched and Making Waves: A Beach Lane Novel. More information about Amey may be found at

            LB's stepchildren are Anka’s sons:

            Robert Dujarric is the director of the Institute for Contemporary Japanese Studies at Temple University Japan Campus, in Tokyo.  He lives in Tokyo.

            Stéphane Dujarric is the spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres.  Steph is married to Ilaria Quadrani.  They live in New York City with their daughter Isabella and sons Henri and Julien. 


Biography of LB 

            Louis Begley,  a biography of LB by Christa Krüger, was published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2008 as part of its "Basis" series.


Literary Agent             

             LB is represented by Georges Borchardt, Inc., 136 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022, tel. (212) 753-5785, fax (212) 838-6518. 



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