Maupassant's Timeline

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Written by Peter Imialek


1850 (birth) - On August 5th Henry René Albert Guy de Maupassant is born at the Château de Miromesnil in Fécamp on the coast of Normandy, to Gustave de Maupassant and Laure Le Poittevin. His parents descend from a noble Lorraine family. Paul Le Poittevin, his maternal grandfather, was Gustave Flaubert's godfather. Maupassant's mother was Flaubert's playmate in her childhood.

1851 to 1854 (ages 1 to 4) - The well-to-do Maupassant family lives in a number of places in the Normandy area (Rouen, Fécamp, Étretat) before moving into the Château de Grainville-Ymauville near Goderville.

1856 (age 6) - Laure Le Poittevin gives birth to Hervé, Maupassant's brother.

1859 (age 9) - Financial difficulties prompt Gustave de Maupassant to work for the Banque Stolz in Paris. The family moves to Passy. In October, Maupassant enters the Lycée Napoléon (now the Lycée Henri IV), where he remains for the academic year.

1860 (age 10) - Gustave and Laure separate. Gustave chooses to remain in Paris, where he will work for the Banque Évrard for the next 25 years, while Laure takes her two sons to Étretat, where she bought a house.

1863 (age 13) - Gustave and Lare are legally separated. In October, Maupassant becomes a boarder at a Catholic school in Yvetot. This is the year Maupassant first begins to write verse.

1864 to 1868 (ages 14 to 18) - Maupassant is schooled at Yvetot and spends his holidays swimming and boating in Étretat. He is expelled from Yvetot for composing lewd verse and is sent as a boarder to the Lycée Corneille in Rouen. During these years he regularly corresponds with the writer Louis Bouilhet (b. 1821), who was chosen by Maupassant's parents to act as his guarian. Bouilhet is also a close friend of Gustave Flaubert, and together they encourage and advise Maupassant in his writing.

1869 (age 19) - Louis Bouilhet dies on July 18th. Less than two weeks later, on July 27th, Maupassant passes his baccalaureate exams. In October he begins to study law in Paris and resides in the same apartment block as his father.

1870 (age 20) - France declares war on Germany on July 15th. Maupassant is conscripted and stationed as a clerk in Rouen. On September 1st France suffers a major and decisive defeat at Sedan.

1871 (age 21) - An armistice is signed on January 28th. Maupassant leaves the army in September.

1872 (age 22) - Maupassant applies to join the Ministry for the Navy and the Colonies as a civil servant, but his application is refused. He is instead offered an unpaid position while awaiting a vacancy. Maupassant also begins to frequent Argenteuil on the Seine, where boating and women occupy his time.

1873 (age 23) - On February 1st Maupassant is given a position at the Ministry for a monthly salary of 125 francs, plus an annual bonus of 150 francs. He continues to spend time at Argenteuil when finances permit him to.

1875 (age 25) - Maupassant's first short story, La Main d'Ecorche is published under the pseudonym Joseph Prunier.

1876 (age 26) - Maupassant is by now fully immersed in the Parisian literary life, socializing with the likes of Flaubert, Turgenev, Mallarmé, Zola, Huysmans, and Mendès.

1877 (age 27) - On March 2nd Maupassant finds out he has syphilis. He begins to suffer from hair-loss, headaches, eyes problems, and stomach pains, and decides to obtain two months' sick leave in August. In December he tells Flaubert of his plans for a novel, A Life (Une Vie).

1878 (age 28) - Maupassant transfers to the Ministory of Education. He puts aside his work on A Life to concentrate his effors on La Vénus Rustique (a poem) and a number of short stories. By this time Maupassant is earning 2,000 francs years and receiving an annual allowance of 600 frances from his father.

1879 (age 29) - Maupassant's play L'Histoire du vieux temps premieres on February 19th and is warmly received.

1880 (age 30) - At the beginning of the year Maupassant is accused of publishing an obscene poem (Une Fille), but a letter in his defense from Flaubert contributes to the case being dropped. On April 16th Emile Zola publishes the Naturalist anthology Les Soirées de Médan, which includes Maupassant's Boule de Suif, a story Flaubert declares a masterpiece. Less than a month later, on May 8th, Flaubert dies. Maupassant develops an eye lesion and continues to lose hair. His deteriorating health prompts him to take another sick leave and spend the autumn months with his mother on Corsica.

1881 (age 31) - La Maison Tellier is published, the first of Maupassant's many short story collections. In the summer Maupassant visits Algeria and writes commissioned newspaper articles, all the while working on A Life.

1882 (age 32) - A fragment from the beginning of A Life is published in the journal Panurge on October 1st.

1883 (age 33) - On February 27th A Life begins to appear in serialized form in the magazine Gil Blas. Its run finishes on April 6th, and the novel is then published in its entirety by Havard. Maupassant's eye problems grow worse and are attributed to his syphilis.

1884 (age 34) - Au Soleil, Maupassant's first travel book, in published in January.

1885 (age 35) - Maupassant's autobiographical second novel, Bel Ami, runs in Gil Blas from April 6th to May 30th and is afterwards published by Havard.

1886 (age 36) - Maupassant visits England in August and stays with Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor, near Oxford. Towards the end of the year in December the first instalments of Mont-Oriol, his third novel, appear in Gil Blas.

1887 (age 37) - Mont-Oriol is published in its entirety in January.

1888 (age 38) - Maupassant's fourth novel, Pierre and Jean, is published in January together with an essay, Le Roman. In June Maupassant's second travel book, Sur l'eau, is published.

1889 (age 39) - Ollendorff publishes Maupassant's fifth novel, Fort comme la mort, in May. Later in the year Maupassant commits his brother to an asylum in Lyons, where he dies on November 13th.

1890 (age 40) - La Vie errante, Maupassant's third travel novel, is published in a series of articles in L'Écho de Paris, before being published in its entirety in March. A few months later in June, Maupassant's last completed novel, Notre cœur, is published. By now his health is rapidly deteriorating.

1891 (age 41) - At the beginning of the year Maupassant begins work on a new novel, L'Angélus. His play Musotte premieres on March 4th.

1892 (age 42) - Due to his rapidly progressing syphilis, Maupassant attempts suidice on New Year's Day by slitting his throat with a paper-knife. On January 8th he is taken to the clinic of Dr Blanche in Passy (now part of Paris) and diagnosed with general paralysis, which occurs in the final stage of syphilis.

1893 (age 42) - Maupassant dies on July 6th, a month before turning 43. He is buried in the cemetery of Montparnasse on July 8th, and Emile Zola gives the funeral oration.

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