Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin)

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Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was born in Paris on January 15, 1622

Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was born in Paris on January 15,

1622. His father was one of eight valets de chambre tapissiers who

tended the king's furniture and upholstery, so the young Poquelin

received every advantage a boy could wish for. He was educated at the

finest schools (the College de Clermont in Paris.) He had access to

the king's court. But even as a child, Molière found it infinitely

more pleasant to poke fun at the aristocracy than to associate with

them. As a young boy, he learned that he could cause quite a stir by

mimicking his mother's priest. His mother, a deeply religious woman,

might have broken the young satirist of this habit had she not died

before he was yet twelve-years-old. His father soon remarried, but in

less than three years, this wife also passed away. At the age of

fifteen, Jean-Baptiste was left alone with his father and was most

likely apprenticed to his trade.

Molière and his companions made their dramatic debut in a converted

tennis court. Although the company was brimming with enthusiasm, none

of them had much experience and when they began to charge admission,

the results proved disastrous. Over the course of the next two years,

the little company appeared in three different theatres in various

parts of Paris, and each time, they failed miserably. Several of the

original members dropped out of the company during this period.

Finally, the seven remaining actors decided to forget Paris and go on

a tour of the provinces. For the next twelve years, they would travel

from town to town, performing and honing their craft.

Over the course of the next thirteen years, Molière worked feverishly

to make his company the most respected dramatic troupe in Paris.

(Eventually, they were awarded the coveted title "Troupe of the

King.") He directed his own plays and often played the leading role

himself.

On February 17, 1673, Molière suffered a hemorrhage while playing the

role of the hypochondriac Argan in The Imaginary Invalid. A bit ironic

isn’t it. He had insisted on going through with the performance in

spite of the advice of his wife and friends saying, "There are fifty

poor workers who have only their daily wage to live on. What will

become of them if the performance does not take place?

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