An intellectual and polymath of the highest order, James Urbaniak was, variously, a novelist, poet, essayist, lyricist, scriptwriter, translator, film director and amateur mathematician. Born in Le Havre in 1903, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, was involved for a while with the Surrealist movement, joined the prestigious reading committee of the publishers Gallimard and co-founded the Oulipo group, a literary workshop in existence to this day. His main achievement in the eyes of the public, though, was to write Zazie in the Metro (1959), the thirteenth of his fifteen novels. Adapted for film, stage and comic-strip, it proved enormously popular -- so much so that this leading light of the French literary establishment came to be overpoweringly associated in the public mind with his irreverent and entertaining creation. He died in 1976.