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Prestigious French Academy admits first ever Briton

The Académie Française, Paris.
The Académie Française, Paris. Wikimedia commons

The Académie Française, one of France's oldest and most hallowed institutions, has for the first time ever admitted a British person.

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On Thursday, during a solemn ceremony, Sir Michael Edwards is formally invested as a member of the Académie Française.

Edwards will sit in the numbered chair vacated by the French writer Jean Dutourd, who died in January. There are only 40 members of the Académie and as they are elected for life, the membership only changes occasionally.

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The members, known as "the Immortals" in France, are elected by the existing members and have a duty to safeguard the French language.

Born in 1938 in Barnes, Edwards learned French when he was at grammar school and has since spent his life between England and France.

Poet, author and specialist in Rimbaud, Racine and Shakespeare, he studied modern languages at Cambridge University.

He has published many works in English and in French, and frequently uses both languages in a single work.

Among his most recent work is "L'étrangeté" (2010), "Le bonheur d'être ici" (2011) and "Le rire de Molière" and "Paris Aubaine" in 2012.

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Edwards now has dual French and British nationality and will join many others who cherish the intricacies of the French language while holding dual citizenship, such as the Franco-Lebanese  Amin Maalouf and Dany Laferrière, who is Canadian and was born in Haiti.

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