Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), 1694 - 1778

portrait of Voltaire
1718 portrait by Nicolas de Largilli

Born: 21 November 1694, Paris, France
Died: 30 May 1778, Paris, France

Born to a minor treasury official from a noble Poitou family, Arouet received his education from the Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand. He wanted to write, but his father insisted on law and, training first with a lawyer at Paris and then, when discovered spending his time at satirical poetry, in the provinces. His father secured a position for him as secretary to the French ambassador to the Netherlands, then snatched him back to Paris to foil an elopement. His satires on the aristocracy won him both friends and enemies, one piece landed him in the Bastille in 1718 for most of a year, his first stay there. He wrote Œdipe while in prison, using the name Voltaire for the first time, a work which established his reputation. He continued to amuse his friends and scandalize the rest of society, in 1725 one offended family secured a lettre de cachet, the right to arrest him, dropping him in the Bastille again and then sending him into exile. In fact, a timeline of Voltaire's life shows almost as many entries for arrest, imprisonment, exile, and escaping various legal proceedings as it does literary works, and there were a staggering number of those. A quick calculation suggests he spent over twenty years outside France, much of it involuntary. Despite the unsettled situation, he wrote a great deal, including six histories, eleven other books, nine notable plays, some 2,000 pamphlets, and over 20,000 letters.

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Quotes found : 342 — (15 per page, this is page 1 of 23) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Next

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