HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Honoré de Balzac, born 20 May 1799
“Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.”
I don’t think any other writer writes as brilliantly about money as does Balzac. His novel Eugénie Grandet is a powerful and moving study of a miser and the way in which he blights his daughter’s life. Balzac himself was always short of money because although he earned lots of it, he spent it faster than it came in. He was a hugely important and influential writer. In the 19thC everyone read Balzac and his impact was enormous.
He was born near Tours in France, and spent most of his life in Paris. You can visit his house there, in the suburb of Passy, but you can also visit the gorgeous Chateau de Saché which has wonderful exhibits of his manuscript pages (he drove his printers crazy with all his last-minute changes to his novels) and pictures and one of his fabulous turquoise walking canes. It is an absolutely beautiful place to visit. And in Paris you can visit the street where Père Goriot lived in the novel of that name.
Balzac died on 18 August 1850, aged 51.
Balzac: A Biography by Graham Robb is a fabulous biography.
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