Jean Genet (1910 – 1986) was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist and political activist. Jean Genet was abandoned by his mother when he was about seven months old and grew up in foster care with a working class family. He began stealing at the age of ten and at fifteen was sent to the notorious reform school, Mettray. Genet was in and out of prison nine times. It was in prison that he began writing and he was later mentored by Jean-Paul Sartre. His major works include the novels The Thief's Journal and Our Lady of the Flowers and the plays The Balcony, The Maids and The Screens.