Writers and Other Languages

Isak Dinesen wrote in English, though her mother tongue was Danish. She had been tutored in English as a girl.

Vladimir Nabokov started writing in English at age 41, having published nine books in Russian. English was in fact his first written language.

Joseph Conrad's mother tongue was Polish. When he decided to become a writer, he chose English over French.

Samuel Beckett's mother tongue was English, but the bulk of his writing was in French.

Julien Greene, an American citizen, was bilingual. He lived in France most of his life and wrote most of his novels in French. He was the first non-French citizen elected to the Academie Francaise.

Andrei Makine was born in Russia but had a French grandmother. His novels are written in French.

Rainer Maria Rilke, whose mother tongue was German, wrote poems in French toward the end of his life.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o wrote many of his novels in English, but has recently been writing in his native Gikuyu.