VOLTAIRE

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Author, Philosopher

FrenchBorn François-Marie AROUET

French Enlightenment writer, essayist, and philosopher

Born on November 21, 1694 in Paris , France

Died on May 30, 1778 in Paris , France

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François Marie Arouet was born in Paris, the youngest of the five children (only three of which survived) of François Arouet (1650–January 1, 1722), a notary who was a minor treasury official, and his wife, Marie Marguerite d'Aumart (ca. 1660–July 13, 1701), from a noble family of the Poitou province. Voltaire was educated by Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand (1704–11), where he learned Latin and Greek; later in life he became fluent in Italian, Spanish and English.



By the time he left school, Voltaire had decided he wanted to be a writer, against the wishes of his father who wanted him to become a lawyer. Voltaire, pretending to work in Paris as an assistant to a lawyer, spent much of his time writing poetry. When his father found him out, he sent Voltaire to study law, this time in the provinces. Nevertheless, he continued to write, producing essays and historical studies not always noted for their accuracy, though most were. Voltaire's wit made him popular among some of the aristocratic families he mixed with. Voltaire's father then obtained a job for him as a secretary to the French ambassador in the Netherlands, where Voltaire fell in love with a French refugee named Catherine Olympe Dunoyer. Their scandalous elopement was foiled by Voltaire's father and he was forced to return to France.

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Most of Voltaire's early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for his energetic attacks on the government and the Catholic Church. These activities were to result in numerous imprisonments and exiles. He allegedly wrote satirical verses about the aristocracy and a work about the Régent thought to be by him led to his imprisonment in the Bastille for eleven months, until the real author came forward. While there, he wrote his debut play, Oedipe. Its success established his reputation.



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