Édouard Louis, born Eddy Bellegueule was born and raised in the town of Hallencourt in northern France, which is the setting of his first novel, the autobiographical En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (2014; published in English in 2018 as The End of Eddy).
Louis grew up in a poor family supported by government welfare: his father was a factory worker for a decade until "One day at work, a storage container fell on him and crushed his back, leaving him bedridden, on morphine for the pain" and unable to work. His mother found occasional work bathing the elderly. The poverty, racism, alcoholism and his homosexuality which he dealt with in his family during his childhood would become the subject of his literary work.
He is the first in his family to attend university. In 2011, he was admitted to two of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in France, the École Normale Supérieure and to the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. In 2013, he officially changed his name to Édouard Louis.
The same year, he edited the collective work, Pierre Bourdieu. L'insoumission en héritage, which analyses the influence of Pierre Bourdieu on critical thinking and political emancipation.
In 2014 he published En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, an autobiographical novel. The book was the subject of extensive media attention and was hailed for its literary merit and compelling story. The book also generated debate and controversy over social perception of the working class. It was a bestseller in France and has been translated into more than 20 languages.
In September 2015, Édouard Louis wrote an open letter, "Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive", together with philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnerie. In the letter, which was published on the front page of Le Monde, and was later reprinted in English by the Los Angeles Review of Books, Louis and Lagasnerie denounce the legitimization of right-wing agendas in public discourse and establish principles by which leftist intellectuals should reengage in public debate.
In 2016, Louis published his second novel, History of Violence. In recounting the story of his rape and attempted murder on Christmas Eve of 2012, the autobiographical novel centers around the cyclical and self-perpetuating nature of violence in society.
In May 2017 Louis wrote "Why My Father Votes for Le Pen", an op-ed that was published on the front page of The New York Times. In the piece, published on the eve of the French presidential election, Louis argued that the rise in popularity of nationalist and right-wing politicians among working class and poor voters in France was a result of changing priorities on the left. In May 2018, Louis released his third novel, Qui a tué mon père (Who Killed My Father), in which he expands upon this theme. He explores the deteriorating health of his father, who had been severely injured in an industrial accident, and the additional bodily harm he endures as a result of political decisions that reduced his financial support and forced him back to work.