Although Corneille is considered to be the father of French tragedy, six of his first eight plays were comedies. He was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu to write conformist plays, but Corneille refused. His first important plays were 'Medee' and 'Le Cid', which established his reputation.
Corneille was elected to the Academie Francaise in 1647.
He was born in Langres, studied the arts in Paris, and became a prolific writer, publishing novels, plays, satires, essays, and letters. His 'Pensees philosophiques' (Philosophical Thoughts) was burned by the Parliament of Paris for its anti-Christian ideas, and he was imprisoned for his 'Lettre sur les aveugles' (Essay on Blindness).
After completion of the Encyclopedie - for which he worked for 20 years - he went
for some time to St. Peters-burg in Russia. On his return he wrote 'Elements of
Physiology' in which he foreshadowed the doctrine of evolution as later
proposed by Darwin.
At first she lived with her husband in his estate but decided later to return to Paris where she formed a literary circle and began to write.
Madame de La Fayette's
first novel was published anonymously, her second under a different name, and her masterpiece
'La Princess de Cleves' again anonymously.
But Lafontaine is best known for his many 'Fables' (Tales) usually called 'La Fontaine Fables', which were published over the last 25 years of his life and which rank among the greatest masterpieces of French literature.