Gustave Flaubert Biography

Gustave Flaubert, a renowned French prose writer, is widely regarded as one of the greatest authors of the Western world. Born into a wealthy family in France, Flaubert’s early education was strict and controlled. However, his passion for writing emerged at a young age, and by fourteen, he had already produced impressive literary works. Initially drawn to the field of law, Flaubert found himself disinterested in both Paris and the legal profession. Following the passing of his father and inheriting the family estate, he settled in Croisset, where he dedicated himself to writing full-time. Flaubert’s notable novels, including “November,” “Madame Bovary,” and “Slammbo,” showcased his exceptional talent. Despite his fame, Flaubert was known for his relationships with prostitutes and never married. He maintained a long-term romantic connection with poet Colet and devoted himself to caring for his mother and niece. Tragically, Flaubert suffered from epilepsy and ultimately succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage.

Quick Facts

  • French Celebrities Born In December Died At Age: 58
  • Family: father: Achille-Cléophas Flaubert, mother: Anne-Justine-Caroline Fleuriot, siblings: Caroline Flaubert
  • Quotes By Gustave Flaubert
  • Novelists
  • Died on: May 8, 1880
  • Place of death: Croisset, Canteleu, France
  • Notable Alumni: Lycée Pierre-Corneille
  • Cause of Death: Cerebral Hemorrhage
  • City: Rouen, France
  • More Facts
  • Education: Lycée Pierre-Corneille

Childhood & Early Life

Gustave Flaubert was born on 12 December 1821 in Rouen, France, to Achille-Cleophas Flaubert and Anne Justine Caroline. His father was a chief surgeon and his mother was a daughter of a doctor. He was the second son to his parents.

Gustave’s family lived in a house located right next to the hospital. His older brother lived away from the family and was a brilliant student. Flaubert and his sister spent most of their childhood struggling with illnesses.

From the age of 3, Flaubert was cared for by a family servant called Julie who stayed with the family until her death. His sister died during childbirth, and she had a great influence on him and he was very close to her.

He was not academically successful; his mother taught him at home. Therefore, it was decided that he would be sent to Royal de Rouen, which was a strict school. He started to write historical works of literature at a young age. Some of his famous works, such as ‘La Lutte du Sacerdoce et de I’Empire Chronique Normande’, ‘Derniere Scene de la Mort de Marguerite de Bourgogne’, ‘La Mort du Duc de Guise’, ‘Le Moise des chartreax’, ‘Loys XI’, etc., were written when he was an adolescent.

His father died in 1846, and Flaubert received a huge inheritance which he used to relocate to the family estate in Croisset. He started concentrating completely on his writing there. His sister died around the same time.

Career

In 1842, Flaubert wrote a novella called ‘November’, which is considered to be his first completed work. The novella’s narrator is a schoolboy who is going through a spiritual and sexual transformation and is on the verge of his adult life.

In 1849, he wrote his first full novel called ‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’. The book had a fantasy storyline, and he read it uninterrupted to his writer friends, Louis Bouilhet and Maxime Du Camp.

In 1850, he started working on the biggest novel of his career, ‘Madame Bovary’, which took five years to finish after returning from his trip to Egypt. The book was eventually published in a serial version in Revue de Paris.

In 1858, he started working on his novel ‘Salammbo’ after returning from Carthage. The novel was extensively worked upon and took 4 years to finish. He became a part of the intellectual court of Napoleon III.

From 1862-1877, Flaubert published books like ‘L’Education Sentimentale’, ‘La Tentation de Saint Antoine’, ‘Trois Contes’, ‘Le Candidat’, ‘Le Duex Cloportes’, ‘Three Tales’, etc.

Personal Life & Legacy

Flaubert never got married; instead, he devoted his life to taking care of his mother and his niece. Although he had an affair with poet Louise Colet, and they both wrote letters to each other.

He moved to Croisset specifically to live near Colet, and she was the only serious romantic relationship in his life. It is also said that Flaubert made some visits to England to see his mistress there from time to time.

After his mother’s death, Flaubert faced great financial difficulty in helping to save his niece’s husband financially. He was a victim of venereal diseases since childhood and died of cerebral hemorrhage in 1880.

Trivia

This famous French writer suffered from epilepsy for his whole life.

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