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22 August 2019

Who was Simone de Beauvoir?

Zaiba Hakim

The intriguing story of Simone de Beauvoir's life explored by Dr Kate Kirkpatrick in the ground-breaking new biography, 'Becoming Beauvoir: A Life', released today by Bloomsbury.

Image: Becoming Beauvoir: A Life book cover
Image: Becoming Beauvoir: A Life book cover

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick, Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Culture in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies tells the fascinating story of how feminist icon and writer, Simone de Beauvoir came to be herself in her new book.

By drawing on previously unpublished diaries and letters, Kate delivers an unprecedented account of Beauvoir’s life and her philosophy of freedom and love in Becoming Beauvoir: A Life.

The book sheds light on the importance of Beauvoir's other relationships, which for years were overshadowed by the significance of Jean-Paul Sartre's and Beauvoir's legendary love affair, a relationship which led many to consider Beauvoir an unoriginal thinker who relied on Sartre's ideas and theories


Simone de Beauvoir has inspired generations to think about what it means to be a woman, and about what possibilities are denied to women because those possibilities are not ‘feminine’. The new sources illuminate her philosophical formation and personal failures, but they also show how much she suffered from the sexist belittlements that are part of daily life for women in what Beauvoir called the ‘feminine condition’. I found it fascinating to explore how her philosophy shaped her life, and her life informed her philosophy—as well as her literary, feminist, and anti-colonial work.”

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick, Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Culture

The book has received outstanding reviews by academics from leading institutions across the globe who note the book is a “powerful” and “important” one which traces the development of Beauvoir’s philosophy and brings her “to stand in her own light”.



Do we need another biography on Simone de Beauvoir? Definitely! Here we finally have a biography that makes Beauvoir's philosophical ideas the focal point – not her love life."

Tove Pettersen, Professor of Philosophy, University of Oslo, Norway. President of the International Simone de Beauvoir Society (source: Bloomsbury)

Beautifully written and meticulously researched, Kirkpatrick draws on new material to find contradictions in previous accounts of Simone de Beauvoir's biography, including those from Beauvoir herself."

Fiona Vera-Gray, Assistant Professor in Sociology, Durham University, UK (source: Bloomsbury)

About Dr Kate Kirkpatrick 

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick joined the Department of Theology & Religious Studies at King’s College London in 2018. She previously worked at the University of Hertfordshire and St Peter’s College, Oxford where she taught the philosophy and feminism of Simone de Beauvoir for Oxford’s MSt in Women’s Studies.

Alongside her academic work, Kate regularly writes and speaks on feminism and existentialism and has published several books and articles on Beauvoir and Sartre, including Past her Prime? Simone de Beauvoir on Motherhood and Old Age and Sartre on Sin: Between Being and Nothingness.


Kate Kirkpatrick photo for KCL

Becoming Beauvoir: A Life is now available to purchase online at Bloomsbury.