Home NewsCrime Papillon: The incredible story of Henri Charrière’s

Papillon: The incredible story of Henri Charrière’s

by Sofia Navarro
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Henri Charrière, also known as Papillon, was a French criminal who gained fame for his daring escapes from prison in French Guiana during the 1930s. Charrière’s life and adventures were chronicled in his bestselling autobiography, “Papillon,” which has since become a classic of prison literature.

Born in 1906 in Ardèche, France, Charrière grew up in poverty and turned to a life of crime at a young age. In 1931, he was wrongly convicted of a murder he did not commit and sentenced to life imprisonment in the infamous penal colony on Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

Charrière spent the next 14 years of his life in various prisons throughout French Guiana, enduring brutal conditions and constant violence. Despite the odds against him, Charrière was determined to escape and make a new life for himself outside of prison.

Over the course of several years, Charrière made several attempts to escape from prison, often with the help of fellow inmates and sympathetic guards. His most daring escape came in 1941, when he and a fellow prisoner named Louis Dega managed to escape from the supposedly impenetrable Devil’s Island by constructing a makeshift raft and sailing for days through shark-infested waters.

Charrière’s incredible journey and the many obstacles he overcame during his time in prison captured the public’s imagination, and his memoir “Papillon” became a bestseller when it was published in 1969. The book was later adapted into a film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in 1973, further cementing Charrière’s place in popular culture.

While some have criticized the veracity of Charrière’s account and accused him of exaggerating his exploits, there is no doubt that his life was one of incredible resilience and determination. His story has inspired countless others to persevere in the face of adversity and to never give up on their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.

Today, Charrière’s legacy lives on through his book and the many adaptations it has spawned, as well as through the countless individuals who have drawn inspiration from his story of survival and redemption.

TYT Newsroom

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