On this date in 1799, Honore de Balzac was born in France. Educated by the Oratorian priests at Vendome College, Balzac became a lawyer's clerk at his parents' insistence. When Balzac turned to writing, his parents reduced his allowance. Balzac worked in legendary privation for the next decade, honing his skill with his first unsuccessful novels. His success as a novelist was clinched by 1830, when he produced the first of his 47-volume Comedie Humaine. The prolific novelist also wrote 24 unrelated novels. Skepticism pervades Balzac's many masterpieces, including Pere Goriot and Cousin Bette. D. 1850.