Yourcenar, Marguerite (märgərētˈ yōrsənärˈ) [key], 1903–87, French writer, b. Belgium as Marguerite de Crayencour. The first woman elected (1980) to the prestigious French Academy, Yourcenar moved to the United States in 1939, became an American citizen in 1947, and spent much of her life on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Combining vast erudition with clarity and a classical sense of form, her novelistic reconstructions of historical eras and people have reached a wide audience. Her many works include Memoirs of Hadrian (1951, tr. 1954), a fictionalized autobiography of the Roman emperor that is probably her finest book; The Abyss (1968, tr. 1976), set in 16th-century Flanders; and Le Labyrinthe du monde (3 vol., 1974–88), a historical memoir of her own family.
See biography by J. Savigneau (1993); studies by P. Horn (1985) and G. Shurr (1987).