Jean-Paul MARAT

Family tree of Jean-Paul MARAT

Figure of the French Revolution

FrenchBorn Jean-Paul MARAT

Swiss-born physician, political theorist, scientist, radical journalist and politician from the French Revolution

Born on May 24, 1743 in Boudry, Neuchâtel, Switzerland , Switzerland

Died on July 13, 1793 in Paris, France

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Marat was born in Boudry in the Prussian principality of Neuchâtel, now part of Switzerland. He was the second of nine children born to Jean Mara (Giovanni Mara), a native of Cagliari, Sardinia, and Louise Cabrol, a French Huguenot from Castres. His father was a Mercedarian "commendator" and religious refugee who converted to Calvinism in Geneva. At the age of sixteen, Marat left home and set off in search of fame and fortune, aware of the limited opportunities for outsiders. His highly educated father, had been turned down for several secondary teaching posts. His first post was as a private tutor to the wealthy Nairac family in Bordeaux. After two years there he moved on to Paris where he studied medicine without gaining any formal qualifications. Moving to London around 1765, for fear of being "drawn into dissipation", he set himself up informally as a doctor, befriended the Royal Academician artist Angelika Kauffmann, and began to mix with Italian artists and architects in the coffee houses around Soho. Highly ambitious, but without patronage or qualifications, he set about imposing himself into the intellectual scene with essays on philosophy ("A philosophical Essay on Man", published 1773) and political theory ("Chains of Slavery", published 1774). Voltaire's sharp critique in defense of his friend Helvétius brought the young Marat to wider attention for the first time and reinforced his growing sense of the wide division between the materialists, grouped around Voltaire on one hand, and their opponents, grouped around Rousseau on the other.



Around 1770, Marat moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, possibly gaining employment as a veterinarian. His first political work Chains of Slavery, inspired by the activities of the MP and Mayor John Wilkes, was most probably compiled in the central library here. By Marat's own colourful account, he lived on black coffee for three months, during its composition, sleeping only two hours a night - and then slept soundly for thirteen days in a row! He gave it the subtitle, "A work in which the clandestine and villainous attempts of Princes to ruin Liberty are pointed out, and the dreadful scenes of Despotism disclosed". It earned him honorary membership of the patriotic societies of Berwick, Carlisle and Newcastle. The Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society Library possesses a copy, and Tyne and Wear Archives Service holds three presented to the various Newcastle guilds.

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Geographical origins

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