Author Albert Camus was just 11-months-old when his father was killed in action during The Battle of the Marne; his mother, partially deaf and illiterate, then raised her boys in extreme poverty. Years later, in 1957, Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Shortly after the occasion, he wrote to his beloved former teacher, Louis Germain, who once steered young Camus on the path he now trod so well.
19 November 1957
Dear Monsieur Germain,
I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honour, one I neither sought nor solicited.
But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened.
I don’t make too much of this sort of honour. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.