Georges Simenon, born Georges Joseph Christian Sim (13 February 1903 4 September 1989) was a highly prolific Belgian-French writer of detective and psychological novels, best known as the creator of Inspector Maigret. His total literary output of some 425 books has been translated into 50 languages and sold over 700 million copies worldwide. His style is variously called "rigorously simplistic" and "having a Gallic dryness". He wrote over 190 pulp fiction works under 17 different pseudonyms in the 1920's and 30's before putting his own name to Pietr-le-Letton (1931; The Case of Peter the Lettnote ), which marked the debut of Inspector Jules Maigret.
The Parisian police inspector is Simenon's most famous character. The unflappable bourgeois Maigret starred in 81 novels and a number of short stories, calmly smoking his pipe and using his knowledge of psychology and patient routine investigation to understand the motives of the people he investigated to solve his cases. Maigret has been adapted for radio, film and television numerous times in France, Britain and Japan, including a British ITV series in the early 1990's starring Michael Gambon and another in 2016 starring Rowan Atkinson.
This author and his work provide examples of:
- I Have Many Names: He wrote under several pseudonyms: Georges Sim, Christian Brulls, Gom Gut, Georges d'Isly, Jean du Perry, Jean Dorsage, Jacques Dorsonne, Luc Dorsan, Georges Martin, Georges en Gaston Vialis.
- Mistaken Nationality: He is often though to be French, but was Belgian, even the most widely read Belgian author of all time.
- Psychological Thriller: Simenon had a keen interest in human psychology and often made it a large part of his plots to seek behind characters' motivations. His non-fiction work also deals with this subject.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: In 1922 a man hung himself at the door handle of a church. Simenon had met the man the night before and brought the drunk person back to his home. It would inspire him to write "Le pendu de Saint-Pholien".
- Smoking Is Cool: Simenon was a pipe smoker himself and therefore he let his character Maigret smoke one too.
References in popular culture:
- De Kiekeboes: In De Doedelzak van Mac Reel ("The Bagpipes of Mac Rel") a Scottish detective is hired named McGret, wearing the same grey raincoat and smoking a similar pipe like Maigret.
- Labyrinths of Echo: Kofa Yokh's appearance is compared to Inspector Maigret, which becomes a plot point late in the second volume, where Max almost lets himself be convinced that all of them were just figments of his imagination, based on his favorite movies—a possible instance of the author admitting to lazy writing, as this technique is never used again throughout rest of the series.