Born François Charles Mauriac in Bordeaux, Gironde department, Aquitaine, France. He studied literature at the University of Bordeaux, graduating in 1905, after which he moved to Paris to prepare for entrance in the École des Chartes. He remained at the school only a few months after making the decision to devote himself entirely to writing. His first volume of poems, Les Mains jointes (Clasped Hands), was published in 1909 and although it gained some attention in the literary community, it was more than ten years before he came into any public prominence. His writing career was interrupted by WW I when he served in the Balkans as a Red Cross hospital orderly. A few years after the War, in 1922, he published Le Baiser aux lepreux (A Kiss for the Leper) that received wide acclaim.
In 1933, he was elected to the Académie française. During the Second World War he continued to write, publishing Le Cahier noir (The Black Notebook) under the pseudonym "Forez." Besides his more than 30 novels, Mauriac published several plays which were produced by the Comédie Française. He was also a distinguished journalist, working as an editorial writer for the major French newspaper, Le Figaro. In the 1950s he supported Algerian independence, condemning the use of torture by the French army. He also published a series of personal memoirs and a biography of Charles de Gaulle.
In 1952, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor in 1958.
Mauriac's complete works were published in twelve volumes between 1950 and 1956. He encouraged Elie Wiesel to write about his experiences as a Jew during the Holocaust.
François Mauriac died in Paris on September 1, 1970 and was interred in the Cimetiere de Vemars, Val d'Oise, France .