Born on May 20, 1799, Honore de Balzac is considered one of the greatest French writers of all time. Balzac studied in Paris and worked as a law clerk while pursuing an unsuccessful career as an author. He soon accumulated enormous debts that haunted him most of his life. A prolific writer, Balzac would often write for 14 to-16 hours at a time. His writing is marked by realistic portrayals of ordinary, but exaggerated characters and intricate detail. In 1834, Balzac began organizing his works into a collection called The Human Comedy, an attempt to group his novels to present a complete social history of France. Characters in this project reappeared throughout various volumes, which ultimately consisted of approximately 90 works. Some of his works include Cesar Birotteau, Le Cousin Pons, Seraphita, and Le Cousine Bette. Balzac wed his lifelong love, Eveline Hanska in March 1850 although he was gravely ill at the time. Balzac died in August of that year.
The son of a civil servant, Honoreacute; de Balzac was born in 1799 in Tours, France. Balzac turned exclusively to fiction at the age of thirty and went on to write a large number of novels and short stories set amid turbulent nineteenth-century France. He entitled his collective works The Human Comedy. Along with Victor Hugo and Dumas pegrave;re and fils, Balzac was one of the pillars of French romantic literature. He died in 1850, shortly after his marriage to the Polish countess Evelina Hanska, his lover of eighteen years.
Peter Porter was born in Brisbane, Australia on February 16, 1929. He moved to London in 1951 and worked as a bookseller and in advertising before writing on poetry for the Observer. In 1961, he published his first collection of poems, Once Bitten, Twice Bitten. His other works include The Cost of Seriousness, Better Than God, and Max is Missing, which won the Forward prize in 2001. His other awards include the Duff Cooper prize, the Whitbread poetry award, and the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry. He died on April 23, 2010 at the age of 81.Graham Robb's two previous books, "Victor Hugo" & "Balzac," were "New York Times" Notable Books. He lives in Oxford, England.