André Gide (1869–1951) was a giant of twentieth-century French literature. An innovator of the novelistic form, he undertook a life-long exploration of morality in his work, and was a major influence on the writing of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.
Besides fiction, Gide’s oeuvre encompassed travel writing, essays, plays, poetry and autobiographical works. Gide was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947.
After a strict Protestant upbringing, Gide went on to question organised religion. He travelled widely, and was critical of many of the colonial practices he encountered. It was while in North Africa that he befriended Oscar Wilde.
The Vatican Cellars was written at the midpoint of Gide's career and provoked scandal at the time of publication for its mockery of the Church and supposed amorality. It has not been widely available in the UK for 25 years.