The beloved children’s book ‘Le Petit Prince’ by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has just turned 80.
The novella, which has been a vital part of so many people’s lives, was first published in 1943. Reynal & Hitchcock first published the book in the United States in April 1943, with it then published in France after World War II. Saint-Exupéry actually drew all the illustrations for the Le Petit Prince himself, using some of the sketching skills he gained while studying architecture.
The title, which translates to The Little Prince, is one of the most famous of all time, selling around 140 million copies since it was first published.
Over the 80 years since its creation, it has been translated into approximately 500 languages and dialects, making it the second most translated work ever, only behind The Bible.
The plot follows a prince who makes his way around the universe while meeting several unforgettable characters and touching on subjects of love and friendship. It is thought that Saint-Exupéry’s wife, Consuelo, inspired the popular character of The Rose.
This theory is further emphasized by the title of Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry’s autobiography, ‘The Tale of the Rose.’
There was almost an Orson Welles Walt Disney screen adaptation after The Citizen Kane star bought the film rights for the book. However, Disney and Welles clashed during meetings, with that project never making it past those initial stages.
However, there has an abundance of other adaptations for screen, stage, and audio, allowing this story to reach many more generation over the ages.