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About this Famous Person

MOLIERE

French MOLIERE

born Jean-Baptiste POQUELIN

French playwright and actor

Source :  Base collaborative Pierfit

Born: on January 15, 1622 in Paris, France
Died: on February 17, 1673 in Paris, France


Biography

Molière was born in Paris, the son of Jean Poquelin and Marie Cressé, the daughter of a prosperous bourgeois family. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin lost his mother at the age of 10 and doesn't seem to have been particularly close to his father. After his mother's death, he lived with his father above the Pavilion de Singes on the rue Saint-Honoré, an affluent area of Paris. It is likely that his education commenced with studies in a Parisian elementary school; this was followed with his enrollment in the prestigious Jesuit Collège de Clermont, where he completed his studies in a strict academic environment.

In 1631 Jean Poquelin purchased from the court of Louis XIII the posts of "valet de chambre ordinaire et tapissier du Roi" ("valet in ordinary of the King's chamber and keeper of carpets and upholstery"). His son assumed the same posts in 1641. The title required only three months' work and an initial cost of 1,200 livres; the title paid 300 livres a year and provided a number of lucrative contracts. Poquelin also studied as a provincial lawyer some time around 1642, probably in Orléans, but it is not documented that he ever qualified. So far he had followed his father's plans, which had served him well; he had mingled with nobility at the Collège de Clermont and seemed destined for a career in office.

In June 1643, when Molière was 21, he decided to abandon his social class and pursue a career on the stage. Taking leave of his father, he joined the beautiful Madeleine Béjart, with whom he had crossed paths before, and founded L'Illustre Théâtre with 630 livres. They were later joined by Madeleine's brother and sister.

The new theatre troupe became bankrupt in 1645. Molière had become head of the troupe, due in part, perhaps, to his acting prowess and his legal training. However, the troupe had acquired large debts, mostly for the rent of the theatre (a court for jeu de paume), for which they owed 2000 livres. Historians differ as to whether his father or the lover of a member of his troupe paid his debts; either way, after a 24-hour stint in prison he returned to the acting circuit. It was at this time that he began to use the pseudonym Molière, possibly inspired by a small village of the same name in the Midi near Le Vigan. It was also likely that he changed his name to spare his father the shame of having an actor in the family (actors, although no longer vilified by the state under Louis XIV, were still not allowed to be buried in sacred ground).

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See Also :

- Category Actor