Jean-Baptiste Poquelin known by his stage name Molière was a French playwright, actor, and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and world literature. His extant works include comedies, farces, tragicomedies, comédie-ballets, and more. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française more often than those of any other playwright today. His influence is such that the French language is often referred to as the "language of Molière".
Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comedic abilities while he began writing, combining Commedia dell'arte elements with the more refined French comedy.
Through the patronage of aristocrats including Philippe I, Duke of Orléans—the brother of Louis XIV—Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, The Doctor in Love, Molière was granted the use of salle du Petit-Bourbon near the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. Later, he was granted the use of the theatre in the Palais-Royal. In both locations, Molière found success among Parisians with plays such as The Affected Ladies, The School for Husbands, and The School for Wives. This royal favour brought a royal pension to his troupe and the title Troupe du Roi ("The King's Troupe"). Molière continued as the official author of court entertainments.
Despite the adulation of the court and Parisians, Molière's satires attracted criticism from churchmen. For Tartuffe's impiety, the Catholic Church denounced this study of religious hypocrisy followed by the Parliament's ban, while Don Juan was withdrawn and never restaged by Molière. His hard work in so many theatrical capacities took its toll on his health and, by 1667, he was forced to take a break from the stage. In 1673, during a production of his final play, The Imaginary Invalid, Molière, who suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, was seized by a coughing fit and a haemorrhage while playing the hypochondriac Argan. He finished the performance but collapsed again and died a few hours later.
Books by Moliere
The Miser is a five-act comedy in prose by the French playwright Molière. It was first performed on September 9, 1668, in the theatre of the Palais-Royal in Paris.
The Imaginary Invalid
The Imaginary Invalid is a three-act comédie-ballet by the French playwright Molière. It was first performed in 1673 and was the last work he wrote. In an ironic twist of fate, Molière collapsed during his fourth performance as Argan on 17 February...
The Learned Women
Les Femmes savantes is a comedy by Molière in five acts, written in verse. A satire on academic pretension, female education, and préciosité (French for preciousness), it was one of his most popular comedies and the last of his great plays in verse....
The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover is a 17th-century comedy of manners in verse written by Molière. It was first performed on 4 June 1666 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris by the King's Players. The play satirizes the hypocrisies o...