Born in 1908 to a bourgeois Parisian family, De Beauvoir showed great intellectual promise as a young student, and was encouraged to pursue an education at elite institutions that were at the time scantly occupied by women, including the Ecole Normale Superieure. She prepared an advanced degree in Philosophy there and was the youngest person to win a degree from the prestigious "grande ecole".
She would become most-recognized for her lifelong romantic and working relationship with fellow intellectual (and Ecole Normale Superieure student) Jean-Paul Sartre, but the emphasis on this relationship tends to overshadow De Beavoir's own towering achievements-- a vast body of work that includes novels, biographies, memoirs, and books on politics, social issues, arts or philosophy.
De Beauvoir died in Paris in 1986. She was 78.