François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade and separation of church and state. Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws with harsh penalties for those who broke them. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.
Voltaire was one of several Enlightenment figures (along with Montesquieu, John Locke, Richard Price, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Émilie du Châtelet) whose works and ideas influenced important thinkers of both the American and French Revolutions.
Most of Voltaire's early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for even mild critiques of the government and religious intolerance. These activities were to result in numerous imprisonments and exiles. One satirical verse about the Régent led to his imprisonment in the Bastille for eleven months. While there, he wrote his debut play, Oedipus. Its success established his reputation.