Samuel Beckett was born on April 13th 1906, into a prosperous Protestant family in Foxrock, County Dublin, Ireland (He died December 22nd, 1989, in Paris, France.) He was educated at the Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he took a BA degree in 1927, having specialized in French and Italian. Beckett worked as a teacher in Belfast and lecturer in English at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. During this time he became a friend of James Joyce , taking dictation and copying down parts of what would eventually become Finnegans Wake (1939). He also translated a fragment of the book into French under Joyce's supervision.
In 1931 Beckett returned to Dublin and received his MA in 1931. He taught French at Trinity College until 1932, when he resigned to devote his time entirely to writing. After his father died, Beckett received an annuity that enabled him to settle in London, where he underwent psychoanalysis (1935-36).
As a poet Beckett made his debut in 1930 with Whoroscope, a ninety-eight-line poem accompanied by seventeen footnotes. It was followed with a collection of essays, Proust (1931), and novel More Pricks Than Kicks (1934). From 1933 to 1936 he lived in London. Beckett's career as a novelist really began in 1938 with Murphy, which depicted the protagonist's inner struggle between his desires for his prostitute-mistress and for total escape into the darkness of mind. When World War II broke out, Beckett was in Ireland, but he hastened to Paris and joined a Resistance network. Beckett's second novel Watt was published in 1953 and was the last of his novels written originally in English. It portrayed the futile search of Watt (What) for understanding in the household Mr. Knott (Not), who continually changes shapes.
Between 1946 and 1949 he produced the major prose narrative trilogy, Molloy, Malone Meurt, and L'innommable, which appeared in the early 1950s. The novels were written in French and subsequently translated into English with substantial changes. Beckett said that when he wrote in French it was easier to write "without style" - he did not try to be elegant.
En Attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot), written in 1949 and published in English in 1954, brought Beckett international fame and established him as one of the leading names of the theatre of the absurd.
Beckett wrote Fin de Partie in 1957 (Endgame) and a series of stage plays and brief pieces for the radio. In his last full-length novel, Comment C'est (1961, How It Is) the protagonist crawls across the mud dragging a sack of canned food behind him.
In the 1970s appeared Mirlitonnades (1978), a collection of short poems, Company (1979) and All Strange Away (1979), which was performed in 1984 in New York. Catastrophe (1984) was written for Vaclav Havel and was about the interrogation of a dissident. Beckett's wife died in 1989. The author had moved just previously to a small nursing home, after falling in his apartment. Beckett lived in a barely furnished room, receiving visitors, writing until the end. From his television he watched tennis and soccer. His last book printed in his lifetime was Stirring Still (1989). Beckett died, following respiratory problems, in a hospital on December 22, 1989. It it rumored that Beckett gave much of the Nobel prize money to needy artists.