Born in 1937 in Algeria (like Jacques Derrida). Best known to English readers for her work in literary criticism, feminism, and poetics. She has published more than thirty books. Her oeuvre consists mostly of fiction and poetry, including the book Prometheus. Of her theory books, some of the best known are the feminist essay The Newly Born Woman and a text on poetics entitled Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. She is a cross-genre writer: a major theme of her works is the exploration of new ways of writing biography, criticism, and theory. Her recent works focus on these themes more than her earlier works (see, for instance, First Days of the Year).
In terms of criticism, she is best known for promoting the works of the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Cixous often writes about Lispector's The Hour of the Star and The Passion According to G.H.. For instances of her work on Lispector read the English impression of Cixous' Coming to Writing and Other Essays which also contains an excellent critical introduction to Cixous' work for the English-speaking reader. Cixous has also written extensively on Franz Kafka, the Austrian novelists Ingeborg Bachmann and Thomas Bernhard, the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, as well as others including Kleist, Dostoevsky, Derrida and Blanchot (Cixous' book Readings is a smart introduction to her literary criticism. Her dissertation was on James Joyce, who is still a living figure in her books.
On almost any of her books in English, you will find that Cixous' publisher (most recently Routledge) has printed these words, by Jacques Derrida, on the cover:
"Cixous is today, in my view, the greatest writer in what I will call my language, the French language if you like. And I am weighing my words as I say that. For a great writer must be a poet-thinker, very much a poet and a very thinking poet."