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Maurice Grevisse

 Grammarian(1895-1980)

Maurice Grevisse was born at Rulles in the Belgian province of Luxembourg, the son of a blacksmith. He trained as a primary-school teacher in Carlsbourg and Malonne before joining the staff of the Marneffe School for Army Children as a French teacher. In the evenings, he taught himself Latin and Greek, and followed distance-learning courses in Philology at the University of Liège, where he gained his Doctorate in 1925. On taking up a new teaching post at the Namur Military Academy in 1927, he realised that none of the then-available French grammar books really suited his teaching requirements, so he wrote his own, entitled Le Bon Usage (“Good Usage”). After being rejected by many large publishers, his book was eventually published by the small Gembloux-based firm of Duculot in 1936. It was an immediate best-seller and received celebrity endorsement from the famous writer André Gide, who described it as “the best French grammar book available”. The book went through ten more editions in Grevisse’s lifetime: he finished his revisions for the 11th edition shortly before his death in 1980. Grevisse was awarded the Légion d’honneur in 1971, and was a member of the Conseil internationale de la langue française from 1967 to1980. Further editions of Le Bon Usage were published in 1991, 1993 and 2007, edited by André Goosse; Grevisse’s son-in-law.

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