Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
Despite her literary work, political campaigning and prominent role in the women's movement, De Beauvoir declared her 51-year-long partnership with philosopher and playwright Sartre to be the greatest achievement of her life - perhaps because she survived it. Their polyamorous relationship was unconventional by any standards, not least those of the 1920s (when it began). The freedom to take other lovers was his idea, and he took many, she few. Sartre believed that "transparency" was essential to the survival of any relationship, that sharing every fantasy was preferable to the "lies" married couples told each other, and that monogamy was unthinkable, despite De Beauvoir's jealousy over his succession of affairs. The two never lived together, though they spent more time in each other's company than many married couples, and their sex life all but ceased after 16 years. But they remained close throughout the relationship. De Beauvoir edited all Sartre's work, which he dedicated to her, and was said to have inspired his magnum opus, Being and Nothingness. Many would consider their partnership far from ideal or romantic; and yet, unlike most, it lasted from their early twenties until the end of their long lives, with De Beauvoir dying exactly six years after Sartre, aged 78.