Honoré de Balzac, 1799 - 1850

portrait of Honore de Balzac
Daguerreotype by Louis-Auguste Bisson (1842)
Honore de Balzac signature

Born: 20 May 1799, Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France
Died: 18 August 1850, Paris, France

First sent away for four years with a wet nurse, at eight Balzac was sent to a grammar school where his rebellion against rote led to his being often sent to a detention cell called "the alcove" - he read a great deal. He attended the Sorbonne, then apprenticed at law. Offered the chance to take over the practice where he trained, he rejected the "life at the grindstone" and turned to writing. By his early twenties he had cranked out several novels under pseudonyms. He bought a publishing firm and a printing company, but both failed and left him with a life-long fear of penury, although he was ever drawn to business ventures that lost money. At age thirty he began to write under his own name, describing in great detail the life of France of his time, writing and rewriting for fourteen to eighteen hours a day. What he styled "La Comédie humaine" (The Human Comedy), which was meant to stand beside Dante's The Divine Comedy, ended up spanning ninety novels and novellas and included well over 2,000 characters. After a fifteen year correspondence with the wife of a Polish nobleman she was widowed and they married only five months before Balzac's death.

Biography from Wikipedia and NNDB

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