On this date in 1803, writer and dramatist Prosper Merimee was born in Paris, France. The son of an artist, Merimee initially studied law, then switched to the humanities. His first play, "Cromwell," was published in 1822, followed by several famed literary "hoaxes," more plays and a travel book. A student of language, Merimee made the first translations into French of many Russian classics. In the 1830s, he was appointed chief of cabinet to two ministers, then inspector-general of historical monuments, where his archaeological interests could be explored. His most famous novella, Carmen, was published in 1845, and later made into an opera by fellow rationalist Georges Bizet in 1869. Merimee was made a senator in 1853 by Eugenie of France, the daughter of his Spanish friend, the Countess of Montigo of Spain. Freethought historians Joseph McCabe, and J.M. Robertson describe Prosper Merimee as an atheist and a rationalist. D. 1870.