Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
French writer

1533 - 1592

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, a French writer, is considered by many the creator of the personal essay. Writers up to the present time have imitated his informal, conversational style. Montaigne's essays reveal his independent mind and sound judgment, his charm and wit, and his wealth of experience in life and literature. The most original aspect of the essays was Montaigne's goal to make himself the subject matter of his writings. He first began publishing his essays in 1580, adding to them as life and experience provided him with new insights and understanding. He wrote a total of 107 essays, including the long Apology for Raymond Sebond with its famous skeptical motto, What do I know?

Montaigne was born in his family's castle near Bordeaux. He studied law, and he became a minor legal official in 1554. Montaigne retired in 1570 to devote himself to writing. From 1581 to 1585, he was mayor of Bordeaux. Montaigne immortalized his friendship with French writer Etienne de La Boetie in the essay Of Friendship.

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