Honoré de Balzac

On this date in 1799, Honoré 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 he 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. Success came in 1830, when he produced the first part of his 47-volume La Comédie humaine.

The prolific writer also wrote 24 unrelated novels. Skepticism pervades Balzac’s many masterpieces, including Pere Goriot and Cousin Bette. He did not marry until later in life but died at age 51, five months after marrying his longtime love Ewelina Hańska. (D. 1850)

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