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Born on this day
John Hadley
John Hadley (16 April 1682 – 14 February 1744) was an English mathematician, inventor of the octant, a precursor to the sextant, around 1730.
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Important personalitiesBack

Anatole France16.4.1844

Wikipedia (25 Mar 2013, 09:38)
Anatole France (pronounced: [anatɔl fʁɑ̃s]; born François-Anatole Thibault, [frɑ̃swa anatɔl tibo]; 16 April 1844 – 12 October 1924) was a French poet, journalist, and novelist. He was born in Paris, and died in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire. He was a successful novelist, with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie française, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his literary achievements.

France is also widely believed to be the model for narrator Marcel's literary idol Bergotte in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

Early years

The son of a bookseller, France spent most of his life around books. France was a bibliophile. His father's bookstore, called the Librairie France, specialized in books and papers on the French Revolution and was frequented by many notable writers and scholars of the day. Anatole France studied at the Collège Stanislas, a private Catholic school, and after graduation he helped his father by working in his bookstore. After several years he secured the position of cataloguer at Bacheline-Deflorenne and at Lemerre. In 1876 he was appointed librarian for the French Senate.

Literary career

Anatole France began his career as a poet and a journalist. In 1869, Le Parnasse Contemporain published one of his poems, La Part de Madeleine. In 1875, he sat on the committee which was in charge of the third Parnasse Contemporain compilation. As a journalist, from 1867, he wrote many articles and notices. He became famous with the novel Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (1881). Its protagonist, skeptical old scholar Sylvester Bonnard, embodied France's own personality. The novel was praised for its elegant prose and won him a prize from the French Academy.

In La Rotisserie de la Reine Pedauque (1893) Anatole France ridiculed belief in the occult; and in Les Opinions de Jerome Coignard (1893), France captured the atmosphere of the fin de siècle. France was elected to the Académie française in 1896.

France took an important part in the Dreyfus Affair. He signed Emile Zola's manifesto supporting Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer who had been falsely convicted of espionage. France wrote about the affair in his 1901 novel Monsieur Bergeret.

France's later works include L'Île des Pingouins (1908) which satirizes human nature by depicting the transformation of penguins into humans – after the animals have been baptized in error by the nearsighted Abbot Mael. Les dieux ont soif (1912) is a novel, set in Paris during the French Revolution, about a true-believing follower of Robespierre and his contribution to the bloody events of the Reign of Terror of 1793-94. It is a wake-up call against political and ideological fanaticism and explores various other philosophical approaches to the events of the time. La Revolte des Anges (1914) is often considered France's most profound novel. It tells the story of Arcade, the guardian angel of Maurice d'Esparvieu. Arcade falls in love, joins the revolutionary movement of angels, and towards the end realizes that the overthrow of God is meaningless unless "in ourselves and in ourselves alone we attack and destroy Ialdabaoth."

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. He died in 1924 and is buried in the Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery near Paris.

On 31 May 1922, France's entire works were put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Prohibited Books Index) of the Roman Catholic Church. He regarded this as a "distinction". This Index was abolished in 1966.

Private life

In 1877, Anatole France married Valérie Guérin de Sauville, a granddaughter of the miniaturist of Louis XVI, with whom he had a daughter, Suzanne, in 1881 (dec. 1918). France's relations with women were always turbulent and in 1888 he began a relationship - that would last until her death in 1910 - with Madame Arman de Caillavet who conducted a celebrated literary salon of the Third Republic. After his divorce in 1893, he had many liaisons, notably with Mme. Gagey, who committed suicide in 1911. France married again in 1920, Emma Laprévotte.


After his death in 1924 France was the object of attacks - " a particularly venomous one was written by Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, afterwards to become a collaborator of the Nazis" and detractors decided he was a vulgar and derivative writer. An admirer, the English writer George Orwell, defended him however and declared that he remained very readable, and that "it is unquestionable that he was attacked partly from political motives. The clericals and reactionaries hated him in just the same way as they hated Zola. [France] had lost no opportunity of poking fun at the Church. He was everything that the clericals and revanchists, the people who afterwards sucked the blacking off Hitler's boots, most detested."


- Les Légions de Varus
, poem published in 1867 in the Gazette rimée.
- Poèmes dorés
- Les Noces corinthiennes
(The Bride of Corinth) (1876)

Prose fiction

- Jocaste et Le Chat maigre
(Jocasta and the Famished Cat) (1879)
- Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard
(The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard) (1881)
- Les Désirs de Jean Servien
(The Aspirations of Jean Servien) (1882)
- Abeille
(Honey-Bee) (1883)
- Balthasar
- Thaïs
- L’Étui de nacre
(Mother of Pearl) (1892)
- La Rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque
(At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque) (1892)
- Les Opinions de Jérôme Coignard
(The Opinions of Jerome Coignard) (1893)
- Le Lys rouge
(The Red Lily) (1894)
- Le Puits de Sainte Claire
(The Well of Saint Clare) (1895)
- L’Histoire contemporaine
(A Chronicle of Our Own Times)
- Clio
- Histoire comique
(A Mummer's Tale) (1903)
- Sur la pierre blanche
(The White Stone) (1905)
- L'Affaire Crainquebille
- L’Île des Pingouins
(Penguin Island) (1908)
- Les Contes de Jacques Tournebroche
(The Merrie Tales of Jacques Tournebroche) (1908)
- Les Sept Femmes de Barbe bleue et autres contes merveilleux
(The Seven Wives Of Bluebeard and Other Marvellous Tales) (1909)
- Les dieux ont soif
(The Gods Are Athirst) (1912)
- La Révolte des anges
(The Revolt of the Angels) (1914)


- Le Livre de mon ami
(My Friend's Book) (1885)
- Pierre Nozière
- Le Petit Pierre
(Little Pierre) (1918)
- La Vie en fleur
(The Bloom of Life) (1922)


- Au petit bonheur
- Crainquebille
- La Comédie de celui qui épousa une femme muette
(The Man Who Married A Dumb Wife) (1908)
- Le Mannequin d'osier
(The Wicker Woman) (1928)

Historical biography

- Vie de Jeanne d'Arc
(The Life of Joan of Arc) (1908)

Literary criticism

- Alfred de Vigny
- Le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
- Le Génie Latin

Social criticism

- Le Jardin d’Épicure
(The Garden of Epicurus) (1895)
- Opinions sociales
- Le Parti noir
- Vers les temps meilleurs
- Sur la voie glorieuse
- Trente ans de vie sociale
, in four volumes, (1949, 1953, 1964, 1973)

" Beautiful moments of our lives."