Samuel Beckett was born to an Irish middle class protestant family in 1906. His original family name Becquet was rumoured to be of Huguenot origin. He grew up in a large house in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock.
As a boy he was a natural athlete but was dogged by an intense sense of loneliness, in fact, as a teenager he regularly stayed in bed until mid afternoon he felt so depressed. He studied French, English, and Italian at Trinity College Dublin 1923 - 1927.
In 1928 he moved to Paris where he soon met James Joyce who became a great influence upon him. He then travelled extensively through Ireland, France, England, and Germany writing all the time his stories and poems while earning money from doing odd jobs. Beckett settled in Paris in 1937, and remained there during the 2nd World War, fighting for the Resistance until 1942 when he was forced to flee with his French-born wife Suzanne Descheveaux-Dumesnil to the unoccupied zone. He said he "preferred France at War to Ireland at peace".
In 1945 he returned to Paris becoming well-known around the Left Bank cafes regularly playing chess with Marcel Duchamp and Alberto Giacometti. This was a particularly prolific period for his writing when he produced masterpieces such as Molloy, End Game, Malone Dies , and Waiting for Godot which was premiered at the Theatre de Babylone. This play in which "nothing happens" became an instant success. All of Beckett's major works were originally written in French even though English was his native language.
Beckett creates a landscape of lonely inadequate people who struggle to express the inexpressible. His characters attempt to communicate, but in vain. Life means waiting, killing time, and clinging to the hope that relief may be around the corner overcome by a sense of lonely bewilderment. Beckett himself had "little talent for happiness". In 1969 Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He was buried alongside his wife in the Cimetiere de Montparnasse, and his directive for the gravestone was, "any colour so long as it's grey".