Georges Simenon

Georges Simenon, better known as the creator of the famous detective, Jules Maigret, was a Belgian writer who has published over 200 novels and many other short works making him one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century.

Simenon was born on 13 February, 1903 at the provincial town of Liege in Belgium. Born to Desire Simenon and Henriette Simenon, George’s birth date was changed to 12 February owing to the superstition of number 13 being an unlucky number. George had a sibling, Christian Simenon who was born in September, 1906. Christian was his mother’s favorite child which despised him in his growing days. he began reading at the age of three at the Saint Julienne nursery school. He started his studies in the College Saint-Louis in 1914 but dropped out in 1918 without even taking the end year exams, citing his father’s ailment. A 15 year old George took a number of short term jobs of various kinds.

In 1919, he started work in a newspaper called ‘Gazette De Liege’. It was here that George Simenon first encountered the wide world of politics, crime and people in general as a writer of the common human interests section. He was notably exposed to police investigations and criminal psychology. His job taught him the art of quick editing which enabled him to publish his first novel in 1921, ‘Au Pont Des Arches’ under the pen name, ‘G Sim’ . In this period, he became familiar with a wide diaspora of people who appeared in many of his future novels.

His father’s death in 1922 made him move to Paris with his future wife, Regine Renchon whom he met while working in Liege. He married her in 1923. His creative works started paying him financial dividends in France. It was in 1930 that his most famous character, Commissionaire Maigret made his first appearance. It was as a short piece written in the ‘Detective’ which he wrote on special request. It was written while boating around the Dutch town of Delfzijl. A statue of Maigret in Delfzijl is a sweet reminder of the story. Later, the beloved character featured in many crime novels written by George.

Beginning in 1932, George traveled extensively going from Africa to Turkey to the Soviet Union. It was followed by a reporting tour around the world in 1934 and 1935. During the second world war, George Simenon was accused of collaborating with the Germans. Though he was an apolitical man, this accusation arose as a result of his deal with the German film studio for the adaptation of one of his works. He was sentenced for five years during which he wasn’t allowed to publish any new work. This sentence was kept as a secret from the public.

Simenon escaped from France in 1945 and arrived in the North America along with his wife. He first lived in a modern style house in Quebec, Canada where he published three novels. He later moved to the United States. In the US, he lived in Florida for a brief period before moving to Arizona. He wrote a novel, ‘The bottom of the bottle’ , which is inspired by his days in Arizona. Following a short stay in California, he finally moved to a large house in Lakeville, Connecticut which formed the background of another of his novel, ‘The death of Belle’. In the United States, he and his son, Marc learned to speak English fluently.

In 1945, Simenon began a romantic relationship with a girl who was seventeen years younger than him, Denyse Ouimet. She was to be hired as a secretary but ended up marrying Simenon after he divorced his first wife in 1949 after a legal tussle. George and Denyse married in Nevada in 1950 and subsequently had three children together. His first wife continued to remain in close proximity to George and her son, Marc as part of the settlement. In 1952, Simenon visited his homeland Belgium where he was made a member of the Royal Belgian Academy. Simenon though never lived in Belgium after 1922.
In 1955, he moved with his family back to France but later settled in Switzerland. In 1963, he got himself an enormous house constructed according to his own design in Epilanges near Lausanne. Simenon and Denyse separated in 1964 since he had become romantically involved with his housekeeper, Teresa who was hired in 1961. Teresa remained with George for the rest of his life. His daughter with Denyse committed suicide in 1978 at the age of 25 which darkened Simenon’s later years.

Simenon underwent a brain tumor surgery in 1981 but his health weakened considerably. On the night of 3-4 September in 1989, George Simenon died in his sleep of natural causes in his house in Lausanne. He was honored by a Silver commemorative coin minted in 2003 in Belgian celebrating the centenary of George Simenon’s birth.


Widely known as the creator of the detective, Commissionaire Maigret, he was allegedly capable of writing 60-70 pages a day making him one of the most prolific writers of the modern times. He has written under about a dozen pseudonyms and a total of 550 million copies of his works have been sold. He published a series of novels and short stories featuring Commissionaire Maigret. Altogether, 75 novels and 28 short stories have featured Maigret.

‘The Strange Case of Peter the Lett’ was the first novel featuring inspector Jules Maigret. Published in 1931, it introduced the suave French detective who later became a household name in the world of crime novels. Later that year, another novel in the series was published, called the ‘The Crime at Lock 14’. Maigret is termed as the Sherlock Holmes of France. The character is an eccentric detective who has an exceptional eyesight. He is shown to be a bit claustrophobic and a bit short of stamina. Supported by three assistants, he goes about his cases smoking a pipe. Maigret doesn’t use reasoning and instead relies on his intuition and his unique perception abilities which make him different form the other detectives. There is a mysterious yet awe inspiring element in his identification of criminals. His attributes are shown to be patience and compassion and his single minded pursuit of justice.


George Simenon’s works have regularly been adapted as television shows or movies. The character, Maigret has been portrayed by French, British, Irish, Austrian, Belgian, Russian, German and Japanese actors. One of the first was a 1932 french film called ‘Night at the Crossroads’. Since then a number of French and English films have been released adapting one or he other of his books featuring inspector Jules Maigret. It was also the inspiration behind a British crime drama series called, ‘Maigret’ in 1991 which received both critical and audience acclaim.

George Simenon is one of the greatest writers of the modern times and he will forever live on in the form of his books and characters.

Books in order of publication by series:

Inspector Maigret Books

The Strange Case of Peter the Lett(1931) 
The Crime at Lock 14(1931) 
Maigret Stonewalled(1931) 
Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets(1931) 
A Man’s Head(1931) 
A Face for a Clue(1931) 
Maigret at the Crossroads(1931) 
Maigret in Holland(1931) 
The Sailor’s Rendezvous(1931) 
Maigret at the Gai-Moulin(1931) 
Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine(1932) 
Maigret Mystified(1932) 
Maigret Goes Home(1932) 
The Flemish Shop(1932) 
Maigret and the Death of a Harbour Master(1932) 
The Madman of Bergerac(1932) 
Liberty Bar(1932) 
The Lock at Charenton(1933) 
Maigret Returns(1934) 
Maigret in Exile(1940) 
Maigret and the Hotel Majestic(1942) 
Maigret and the Spinster(1942) 
Maigret and the Fortuneteller(1944) 
Maigret and the Toy Village(1944) 
Maigret’s Rival(1944) 
Maigret in Retirement(1945) 
Maigret in New York’s Underworld(1946) 
A Summer Holiday(1947) 
Maigret’s Special Murder(1948) 
Maigret’s First Case(1948) 
My Friend Maigret(1949) 
Maigret at the Coroner’s(1949) 
Madame Maigret’s Own Case(1949) 
Maigret’s Memoirs(1950) 
Maigret and the Old Lady(1950) 
Maigret in Montmartre(1950) 
Maigret Takes a Room(1951) 
Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife(1951) 
Maigret and the Gangsters(1951) 
Maigret’s Revolver(1952) 
Maigret and the Man on the Bench(1953) 
Maigret Afraid(1953) 
Maigret’s Mistake(1953) 
Maigret Goes to School(1953) 
Maigret and the Young Girl(1954) 
Maigret and the Calame Report(1954) 
Maigret and the Headless Corpse(1955) 
Maigret Sets a Trap(1955) 
Maigret’s Failure(1956) 
Maigret’s Little Joke(1956) 
Maigret and the Millionaires(1957) 
Maigret Has Scruples(1957) 
Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses(1958) 
Maigret Has Doubts(1959) 
Maigret in Court(1959) 
Maigret in Society(1960) 
Maigret and the Lazy Burglar(1961) 
Maigret and the Black Sheep(1961) 
Maigret and the Saturday Caller(1962) 
Maigret and the Bum(1962) 
Maigret Loses His Temper(1962) 
Maigret and the Ghost(1963) 
Maigret on the Defensive(1964) 
Maigret Bides His Time(1965) 
Maigret and the Nahour Case(1966) 
Maigret’s Pickpocket(1966) 
Maigret in Vichy(1967) 
Maigret Hesitates(1968) 
Maigret’s Boyhood Friend(1968) 
Maigret and the Killer(1969) 
Maigret and the Wine Merchant(1969) 
Maigret and the Madwoman(1970) 
Maigret and the Loner(1971) 
Maigret and the Flea(1971) 
Maigret and Monsieur Charles(1972) 

Inspector Maigret Collections

Maigret’s Pipe: Seventeen Stories(1977)

Standalone Novels

The 13 Culprits(1932) 
Mr Hire’s Engagement(1933) 
The Lodger(1934) 
The Pitards(1935) 
Donadieu’s Will(1937) 
The Outlaw(1941) 
Uncle Charles(1942) 
The Truth About Bebe Donge(1942) 
The Breton Sisters(1943) 
The Couple from Poitiers(1946) 
Black Rain(1946) 
Death of a Nobody(1947) 
Magnet of Doom(1948) 
Girl in Waiting(1949) 
The Survivors(1949) 
Poisoned Relations(1950) 
Strange Inheritance(1950) 
The Strangers in the House(1951) 
Act of Passion(1952) 
The Burgomaster of Furnes(1952) 
Escape in Vain(1952) 
Havoc by Accident(1952) 
In Two Latitudes(1952) 
On the Danger Line(1952) 
The Trial of Bebe Donge(1952) 
The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By(1953) 
The Stain on the Snow(1953) 
Aunt Jeanne(1953) 
Across the Street(1954) 
The Bottom of the Bottle(1954) 
Ticket of Leave(1954) 
The Brothers Rico(1954) 
The Burial of Monsieur Bouvet(1955) 
Chez Krull(1955) 
The Rules of the Game(1955) 
The Fugitive(1955) 
A Sense of Guilt(1955) 
Red Lights(1955) 
The Little Man from Archangel(1957) 
The Stowaway(1957) 
The Heart of a Man(1958) 
Inquest on Bouvet(1958) 
The Son(1958) 
The Witness(1958) 
The Murderer(1958) 
In Case of Emergency(1958) 
Young Cardinaud(1959) 
The Negro(1959) 
The Hatter’s Ghost(1960) 
The Premier(1961) 
The Widower(1961) 
Fate of the Malous(1962) 
The Iron Staircase(1963) 
New Lease of Life(1963) 
The Patient(1963) 
The Train(1964) 
The Accomplices(1964) 
The Bells of Bicetre(1964) 
The Door(1964) 
Three Beds in Manhattan(1964) 
The Blue Room(1965) 
Man with the Little Dog(1965) 
The Little Saint(1966) 
The Mouse(1966) 
Old Man Dies(1967) 
The Confessional(1967) 
Monsieur Monde Vanishes(1967) 
The Neighbours(1968) 
The Witnesses(1968) 
The Prison(1969) 
Uncle Charles Has Locked Himself In(1969) 
Big Bob(1969) 
The Man on the Bench in the Barn(1970) 
The Rich Man(1971) 
Teddy Bear(1971) 
The Disappearance of Odile(1972) 
Window Over the Way(1972) 
The Cat(1972) 
The Glass Cage(1973) 
The Innocents(1973) 
The Venice Train(1974) 
The Magician(1974) 
The House on Quai Notre Dame(1975) 
Watchmaker of Everton(1975) 
The Others(1975) 
Girl in His Past(1976) 
Four Days in a Lifetime(1977) 
The Clockmaker(1977) 
The Family Lie(1978) 
The Girl with a Squint(1978) 
The Little Doctor(1978) 
Aboard the Aquitaine(1979) 
The Nightclub(1979) 
The Grandmother(1980) 
The White Horse Inn(1980) 
The Country Doctor(1981) 
The Long Exile(1983) 
The Lodger(1983) 
The Reckoning(1984) 

Non-Fiction Books

Simenon’s Paris(1970) 
When I Was Old(1971) 
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