Birthday: May 13, 1840
Died At Age: 57
Sun Sign: Taurus
Born in: Nîmes, France
Famous as: Novelist, Short story writer, playwright, poet
Spouse/Ex-: Julia Allard
father: Vincent Daudet
siblings: Ernest Daudet
children: Léon Daudet, Lucien Daudet
Died on: December 16, 1897
place of death: Paris, France
Alphonse Daudet is considered to be one of the most iconic names of French literature. Unlike many famous writers in world history, Alphonse wasn’t very well educated, and wrote his first novel at the age of fourteen. Many of Alphonse’s works drew inspiration from instances of his life. His liaison with a model, and the depressing times of his childhood were reflected in few of his books. His works ‘Trente ans de Paris’ and ‘Souvenirs d'un homme de lettres’ seemed to be more like autobiographies. Though he passed away in the final decade of the 19th century, his name still continues to be popular amongst the citizens of France. A lot of educational institutions in France have been named after this famous writer. However, he was also criticized by many for being anti-Jewish and a monarchist. His book ‘Le Nabab’, revolved around a Jewish politician, and spoke about Alphonse’s strong dislike towards the community. However, Alphonse, till date, is considered by many literature lovers to be one of the handful writers who portray human emotions in a very realistic manner.
Childhood & Early Life
Alphonse was born on 13 May 1840, in Nimes, France. His father Vincent was a silk manufacturer who incurred lot of losses in his business. These miseries in the family made a great impact on Alphonse’s childhood, leading him to depression.
His family moved to Lyon after the silk business failed. Alphonse attended school in this new town. However, he hated his new environment and seldom attended school. Alphonse penned his first novel at the tender age of fourteen.
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In 1857, Alphonse moved out of Lyon to the south of France, where he started working as a school teacher. During this period, Alphonse stayed with his elder brother Ernest Daudet who was trying to establish his identity as a journalist.
While staying with Ernest, Alphonse began to write poems, and his collection was published in the form of a book called ‘Les Amoureuses’ in 1858. The book was well received by the critics.
Soon later, Alphonse was offered a job at ‘Le Figaro, a leading French newspaper daily at that time. While working with this daily, Alphonse had penned 2-3 plays which were critically acclaimed. His mature style of writing soon grabbed the attention of people within the literary circles.
Alphonse was hired by Charles De Morny to work as the latter’s secretary. Morny was an influential minister who worked for the emperor Napolean III. The job was of little help to Alphonse’s career. He left this job in 1865, post Morny’s death.
The later half of the 1860’s saw the release of two of Alphonse’s books, namely ‘Lettres de mon moulin’, a collection of short stories, and ‘Le Petit Chose’. The first book which consisted of stories narrated with the backdrop of a windmill was well acclaimed, whereas ‘Le Petit Chose’ didn’t impress the readers much.
In the 1870’s, Alphonse had reached the peak of his career with works such as ‘Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon’, ‘L'Arlésienne’- a three act play, and ‘Fromont jeune et Risler aîné’, which is considered to be his best work of all time.
The most noted one amongst his works in the 1880’s is ‘Sapho’, which was based on his painful relationship with model Marie Rieu. The other books written by Alphonse in this period were ‘Numa Roumestan’, ‘L'Immortel’, ‘Trente ans de Paris’, and ‘Souvenirs d'un homme de lettres’.
Of the dozens of books penned by Alphonse Daudet, it was ‘Fromont jeune et Risler aîné’ which brought Alphonse a lot of fame. This book was so popular that it was awarded the prestigious Jouy Prize by the French Academy. The book was also reprinted and published several times.
Alphonse was always against the French Republic. He even collaborated with many of his contemporaries from French literary circles to form the ‘Antisemitic League of France’ and even worked as an editor of the newspaper ‘La Libre Parole’, which was anti-semitic.
Personal Life & Legacy
Alphonse Daudet first entered into a relationship with a model named Marie Rieu. The time he spent with Marie greatly influenced two of Alphonse’s most prominent works. One was his collection of poems ‘Les Amoureuses’, which was Daudet’s dedication to Marie whom he dearly loved, the second being the novel ‘Sapho’ which spoke about the strains in their relationship.
Alphonse got married in 1867 to French author Julia Allard, who had written novels such as ‘Impressions de nature et d'art’ and ‘L'Enfance d'une Parisienne’. The couple had three children together.
Alphonse had contracted Syphilis at a really young age, and had undergone several unsuccessful treatments for the dreaded disease.
Alphonse Daudet died on 16 December 1897, in Paris, while he was having dinner. He was 57 at the time. Though efforts were made by his doctors to save him through artificial respiration, Alphonse didn’t respond to the method.
Other than being a famous writer, Alphonse was also known to be unfaithful. According to sources, he had lost his virginity at the age of twelve, and used to often sleep with the wives and mistresses of his friends.
Alphonse’s brother Ernest had penned a biography based on his brother’s life. This book was titled ‘Mon frère et moi’.