Francine du Plessix Gray

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Francine du Plessix Gray
Born (1930-09-25) September 25, 1930 (age 87)
Warsaw, Poland
Residence Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut
Warren, Connecticut
Citizenship United States
Education Bryn Mawr College 1948-50
Black Mountain College summers 1951-52
Barnard College B.A. 1952
Occupation Author
Political party Democratic party (United States)
Spouse(s) Cleve Gray
Children Thaddeus Ives Gray
Luke Alexander Gray
Parent(s) Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix
Tatiana Yakovleva du Plessix Liberman
Alexander Liberman stepfather

Francine du Plessix Gray is an American Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and literary critic.


Early life, family background, and education[edit]

She was born on September 25, 1930, in Warsaw, Poland, where her father, Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, was a French diplomat – the commercial attaché. She spent her early years in Paris, where a milieu of mixed cultures and a multilingual family (French father and Russian mother) influenced her. Her father, then a sub-lieutenant in the Free French Air Force died in 1940, shot down near Gibraltar.[3][4]

Her mother, Tatiana Iacovleff du Plessix, (1906–1991) had come to France as a refugee from Bolshevik Russia, and ended an engagement to Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1928, before marrying du Plessix. During her widowhood, she once again became a refugee, escaping occupied France via Lisbon to New York in 1940 or 1941 with Francine and Alexander Liberman (1912–1999). In 1942, she married Liberman, another White Russian émigré, whom she had known in Paris as a child. (During his love affair with Liberman's mother, her uncle, Alexandre Yacovleff, had recruited Tatiana to keep the boy occupied.) He was a noted artist and later a longtime editorial director of Vogue magazine and then of Condé Nast Publications. The Libermans were socially prominent in media, art and fashion circles.[5][6][7]

For the first six months in the United States, young Francine lived with her mother's father (whom she had never met) in Rochester, New York, while her mother settled in. She grew up in New York City and was naturalized a U.S. citizen in 1952. She was a scholarship student at Spence School, where she fainted in the library from malnutrition. Her mother learned that she had not been eating the meals the housekeeper prepared for her. She attended Bryn Mawr College for two years, and earned a B.A. in philosophy at Barnard College in 1952.[1][3][5]

Personal life[edit]

On 23 April 1957, she married the painter Cleve Gray (1918–2004) and until his death they lived together in Connecticut. They had two sons.[1]




  • Putnam Creative Writing Award from Barnard College, 1952
  • National Catholic Book Award from Catholic Press Association, 1971, for Divine Disobedience: Profiles in Catholic Radicalism
  • Front Page Award from Newswomen's Club of New York, 1972, for Hawaii: The Sugar-Coated Fortress
  • LL.D.
City University of New York, 1981
Oberlin College, 1985
University of Santa Clara, 1985
St. Mary's College of California
University of Hartford



  1. ^ a b c d e f Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Document Number: H1000038983. Entry updated: 20 March 2006. Fee. Accessed 2008-10-31.
  2. ^ "New Releases - Atlas & Co". Atlas & Co. Retrieved 31 October 2008. Atlas is an independent publisher of quality nonfiction. 
  3. ^ a b Mcalpin, Heller (22 May 2005). "Living lives of glamour in the midst of chaos". Los Angeles Times. p. R-3. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  4. ^ "Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix". Ordre de la Libération (in French). 7 July 2004. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Bellafante, Ginia (28 April 2005). "Francine du Plessix Gray: A Back Turned On the High Life". New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2008. 
  6. ^ Maier, Thomas (1997). Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power, and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Behind It. Big Earth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-55566-191-5. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  7. ^ Flint, Peter B. (29 April 1991). "Tatiana du Plessix Liberman Dies; Leading Designer of Hats Was 84". New York Times. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  8. ^ See, Carolyn (31 October 2008). "French Letters' Open Book". Washington Post. p. C2. [She] does a marvelous job in "Madame de Staël" filling us in on the French Revolution as though it were easy to understand...I loved this book! 

Further reading[edit]