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Known mainly as one of the foremost playwrights of what critic Martin Esslin called the Theatre of the Absurd, and what he preferred to call "theatre of derision", Eugène Ionesco was born in 1909 in Slatina, Romania, of a French mother and Romanian father. He spent most of his childhood in France, returning to Romania in 1925, where he stayed until 1938, when he returned to France on a graduate scholarship. He spent the rest of life in France and died in Paris in 1994. In Romanian he wrote, before leaving, a volume of poetry as well as literary criticism of a particularly polemic nature, reminescent of Dada and the avantgarde.