Honoré de Balzac was born on 20 May 1799 in Tours, France. Balzac's father, Bernard-François Balssa, was one of eleven children from a poor family. He rose to prominence, changing his name to the more noble Balzac and, at age 50, marrying the 18 year old Anne-Charlotte-Laure Sallambier, daughter of a wealthy family of haberdashers. Honoré was their first surviving child.
Balzac spent much of his early life away from his parents, from a wet-nurse, governess, and grammar school in Vendôme. He often received harsh treatment, and even attempted suicide in his mid teens by jumping into the Loire River.
Balzac started writing in around 1820. He wrote with great dedication. He would often start work at midnight, and then work well into the next afternoon, kept awake by black coffee.
As well as writing, Belzac embarked on a number of disastrous business ventures, as a publisher, printer and businessessman. He had an affair with the married writer Maria du Fresnay, with whom he fathered a daughter in 1834. However, the love of his life was Ewelina Hańska, who lived in modern-day Ukraine and was married to a man twenty years her older. When her husband died in 1841, Balzac visisted her in St. Petersburg, competing for her affections with the composer Franz Liszt. Eventually Balzac married Ewelina at age 50, but died five months later, on 18 August 1850.
Balzac wrote a great variety of works, including historical works, contemporary French life, philosophical works, influenced by the rich experiences of his own life. Balzac's main work was La Comédie humaine, a collection of short stories and novels that covers a broad view of French life after the 1815 fall of Napoleon, many of which are available for download from eBookTakeAway.
Books by Honoré de Balzac