Albert Camus was born in Algeria on the 7th of November 1913, into a French Algerian settler family. His father originated from Alsace and his mother, Catherine, was of Spanish extraction. He had a brother four years older.

The family was not well off and life was not kind to Camus in his childhood. His father was drafted into an Algerian regiment at the outbreak of the First World War.  He was killed in the first weeks at the Battle of the Marne, in October 1914.  His mother moved with her two children to live with her mother in a run-down district of Algiers.  The boys were brought up more by the Grandmother as Catherine was partially deaf and had speech difficulties.

Albert Camus was rescued from these circumstances, by his primary schoolteacher, Louis Germain, who prepared him for a scholarship to lycée, which led on to Algiers University.  He enjoyed the academic life and the sport, as goalkeeper in the University team.

Fate then struck him an unexpected blow.  In 1930, he contracted tuberculosis. He had to convert his course to part-time studies and finance himself with odd jobs such as private tuition, clerk in a firm selling car spares etc.  His sporting career ended.  Neverthless he gained a degree in philosophy in 1936 and his post-graduate diplôme d'études supérieures in 1936.  His thesis was on “Neo-Platonism and Christian thought”.

Camus had the experience of human solidarity in 1935, when he joined the Communist party. 

He founded a workers’ theatre 1935-1939.  He was a journalist on left-wing newspapers from 1937- 1940.

After a short-lived marriage in 1934, Camus remarried in 1940 to the mathematician and pianist, Francine Faure.  They had twins, a son and daughter in 1945.  Although devoted to her, Camus continued to denounce the institution of marriage and was notorious for his extra-marital affairs.

At the start of the war in 1939, Camus had been ruled unfit for service due to his TB.  From 1940, he worked for the leading magazine: “Paris Soir”.  For the first two years of the war he took a neutral attitude.  From 1941, Paris-Soir was based in bordeaux. In December 1941, Camus witnessed the execution of a French patriot by German troops and joined the French resistance writing for the underground newspaper: “Combat”.  He was its editor from 1943 to the end of the war and beyond.  When it became a commercial paper in 1947, he resigned.

In 1941, he wrote his first book “L’étranger”.

While working at “Combat” during the war, Camus met the philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre.  After the war, he became a member of Sartre’s circle that frequented the Left bank in Paris.  In this group, Camus enjoyed for a time the same solidarity with committed colleagues that he had experienced in the Resistance.  A break was to follow, however, as Camus although a left-winger, voiced criticisms of communist doctrines, straining his relations with Sartre.

A further setback hit Camus in 1949, when his tuberculosis returned.  For the next two years, he lived in seclusion.  In 1951, he published “The Rebel”, which analysed the nature of rebellion and revolution, rejecting Communism.  Many of his former colleagues turned against him and Sartre broke with him completely.  The negative reception to his book increased Camus’ sense of depression. 

 In the early 1950s, nevertheless, Camus still had  widespread approval for his fight for human rights. In 1952 he resigned from his work for UNESCO when the United Nations accepted Fascist Spain as a member. From 1953 onwards he again distanced himself from his former left-wing friends when he  criticized Soviet repression of independence movements in eastern Europe.

On one issue in the mid 1950s, Camus found himself totally outside the international consensus.  When the Algerian War of Independence broke out in 1954, Camus felt sympathy with the pied-noirs, and defended the French government action. From the experience of his own background, he believed that the French settlers and Arabs could co-exist. His attitude led to further ostracism by the French left-wing intellectuals who had once been his closest friends.  His book “La Chute” published in 1956 tells of the destructive tearing of conscience.

For Camus it was a conflict between idealism and humanity, and this was the conflict that is at the base of much of his work. he made the folowing statement about the conflict in Algeria:
"J'ai toujours condamné la terreur. Je dois condamner aussi un terrorisme qui s'exerce aveuglément dans les rues d'Alger par exemple, et qui peut un jour frapper ma mère ou ma famille. Je crois à la justice, mais je défendrai ma mère avant la justice."

Albert Camus was to die in 1960 before the Algerian conflict was resolved.