Can’t find it here? Try Voltaire By: Desk Jockey Voltaire Francois Marie Arouet (pen name Voltaire) was born on November21, 1694 in Paris. Voltaire’s style, wit, intelligence and keen sense of justicemade him one of France’s greatest writers and philosophers. Young FrancoisMarie received an excellent education at a Jesuit school. He left school at 16and soon formed friendships with a group of sophisticated Parisian aristocrats.Paris society sought his company for his cleverness, humor and remarkableability to write verse. In 1717 he was arrested for writing a series of satiricalverses ridiculing the French government, and was imprisoned in the Bastille.

During his eleven months in prison he wrote his first major play, “Oedipe,”which achieved great success in 1718. He adopted his pen name “Voltaire” thesame year. In 1726 Voltaire insulted a powerful young nobleman and wasgiven two options: imprisonment or exile. He chose exile and from 1726 to 1729lived in England.

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While in England Voltaire was attracted to the philosophy ofJohn Locke and ideas of the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton. After his returnto Paris he wrote a book praising English customs and institutions. The bookwas thought to criticize the French government and Voltaire was forced to fleeParis again. In 1759 Voltaire purchased an estate called “Ferney” near theFrench-Swiss border where he lived until just before of his death. Ferney soonbecame the intellectual capitol of Europe. Throughout his years in exile Voltaireproduced a constant flow of books, plays, pamphlets, and letters.

He was avoice of reason, and an outspoken critic of religious intolerance andpersecution. Voltaire returned to a hero’s welcome in Paris at age 83. Theexcitement of the trip was too much for him and he died in Paris. Because ofhis criticism of the church Voltaire was denied burial in church ground. He wasfinally buried at an abbey in Champagne.

In 1791 his remains were moved to aresting place at the Pantheon in Paris. Voltaire was famous during theenlightenment for his satirical writings about major issues. He was loved bysupporters of the enlightenment, but he was hated by some who didnt see thegenius in his satires. He had a unique point of view on things that few could seeat that time. Bibliography: