From Né to Non
Alphonse Daudet was born in Nîmes, France, on 13 Mai, 1840 but after his father, Vincent's bankruptcy, they moved to Lyon where his childhood education was irregular at best. He wrote a novel around this time while barely a teenager of 14. After a short try at the Collège d'Alès left for Paris on a December day ("...when it drizzles...") in 1857. Living the Bohemian life as a 17 year old, and falling in love with a Marie Rieu, while at this time meeting Frédéric Mistral and Publie Audiberte, he finally got his start as a writer in 1859 -- for the newspaper, Le Figaro.
Apres Vous, Alphonse
He procured employment with the Duke de Morny as that gentleman's private secretary in 1860, where at only 18, he published his first book of poems: Les Amoureuses (Women in Love), but then left in 1861 where he recuperated in the South of France because of Syphilis. That winter he also stayed in Algeria until he returned to France the next year. After returning to France in 1862 and the success of La Derniere Idole and its publication in 1863, he stayed with his cousins the Ambroys in Fontvielle. In 1865 he found a woman in love at the Création de L'Oeillet Blanc à la Comédie Française, and he reciprocated this amorousness in marriage to the Mme. Julia Allard in 1867; and the year he got his son, Léon.
Children of the Flesh and Print
In 1868 the reading public got to enjoy
Le Petit Chose (The Little Thing) and the following year Lettres de Mon Moulin, which he had started in 1866.
A couple of years later when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 he joined the Garde Nationale. Fortunately for the reading world and Julia, he was back the next year in enough of one piece at Fontvielle to pen and print Les Adventures Prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon (The Wonderful Adventures of Tartarin de Tarascon -- or The New Don Quixote) and L'Arlesienne in 1873; followed in the next by the lauded Les Contes du Lundi (Stories of the Moon). He also achieved literary praise and an award from the French Academy in 1874 for Fromont Jeune et Risler Aine (Fromont the Younger and Riler the Elder)
Tragedy struck the Daudet family in 1875 with the death of their son. But the next year was better with the befriending of Flaubert
and Edmond Concourt and the publication of Jack
In 1879 a year after a re-occurrence of his earlier venereal bout, Le Nabab was published. He next wrote Les Rois en Exil (King in Exile) in 1881, and the year his second son, Lucien was born he had out in print Numa Roumestan and L'Evangéliste. In 1884 he while having an incurable spine problem he put out Parution de Sapho and the next year, Reprise de L'Arlésienne with Tartarin Sur Les Alpes. He was blessed with a daughter, Edmée in 1886 and saw Sapho published two years afterwards. In 1891, a year after publishing trente Ans de Paris; Souvenirs d'un Homme de Lettres (Thirty Years of Paris and of My Literary Life) and L'Immortel he saw the merger of two great French literary families when his first son, Leon married Victor Hugo's daughter.
His book in 1894, La Petite Paroisse was followed by Port Tarascon in 1895.
The Fin (but not Forgotten)
A year after the founding of his Seat at the Concourt Academy, Alphonse Daudet died in his home on the sixteenth of December, 1897. Posthumously published were: in 1898 -Soutien de Famille (Support from my Family), in 1900 -Notes Sur Ma Vie (Notes of my Life) and finally, in 1931 - Premier Voyage, Premier Mensonge (First Trip, First Lie).
He had stories about much of his experiences; persons and places and imaginations: The Last Class, The Judge of Colmar's Vision, Christmas Stories, The Pope is Dead, The Pope's Mule, Mr. Seguin's Horse, Gastronomic Passages, House for Sale, The Last Book, Cheese Soup, Arthur, The Mirror, The Stars, and L'Arlésienne and many more through the years. His written words should be heard in their original format like this description of a town next to expansive woods bordering the Red River:
L'emplacement était superbe pour bâtir une ville. Il n'y avait qu'à déblayer les bords du fleuve, en abattant une partie de la forêt vierge enracinée là depuis la naissance du monde. Alors abritée tout autour par des collines boisées, la ville descendrait jusqu'aux quais d'un port magnifique, établi dans l'embouchure de la Rivière-Rouge, à quatre milles seulement de la mer...
Source: PageWise, Inc. (online)
A Biblioteque Francaise webpage
This writer's translation of the french website with Robert Helmut's bio.