Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant, 1850 - 1893

portrait of Guy de Maupassant
Portrait by Felix Nadar, 1888
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Born: 5 August 1850, near Dieppe, Seine-Inférieure, France
Died: 6 July 1893, Paris, France

de Maupassant's parents separated when he was eleven, his mother taught him to love the classics, particularly Shakespeare. Living on the Normandy coast, he also took to boats, a love he continued when living at Paris where he would regularly row for an hour or more a day. He was sent to a seminary but deliberately caused his own expulsion, then was sent to the Rouen lycéee where he did well and was active in student theatre. He enlisted at the start of the Franco-Prussian war and served with distinction, then spent ten years as a clerk in the Navy Department. After being transferred to the Ministry of Public Instruction in 1878 he became a contributing editor to several magazines and devoted his spare time to novels and short stories. His work met with both critical and commercial success, and he appeared to be able to crank out high-quality literature with ease and became very wealthy over the next decade. One of the few Parisiennes who didn't admire the Eifel Tower, de Maupassant actively hated seeing it; his favorite restaurant was at the base of the tower, he ate there because it was one of the few places where the view did not include the familiar profile. He had had syphilis in his twenties and it eventually drove him mad. Always uneasy in society, he sought solitude more as he aged and became paranoid. On 2 January 1892 he attempted to commit suicide by slashing his throat, he was confined to a private asylum where he died a year and a half later.

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