Letters concerning the English Nation

By Voltaire; Nicholas Cronk | Go to book overview

A CHRONOLOGY OF VOLTAIRE
1694 Born François-Marie Arouet, in Paris.
1710 Writes his first poetry while at school, the Jesuit college
Louis-le-Grand.
1713 First journey abroad, to The Hague.
1716 Exiled from Paris on account of a satire against the
Regent.
1717 Another satire lands him in the Bastille.
1718 Adopts the name Voltaire: an anagram of Arouet l[e]
j[eune], it evokes volter, 'to vault'. His first major work,
the tragedy Œdipe, is staged with great success.
1722 His poem Epître à Uranie (not published until 1738)
expresses views critical of Christianity.
1723 French government refuses to allow publication of La
Ligue
, an epic poem about Henry IV on the theme of
religious intolerance.
1726 Quarrel with the chevalier de Rohan leads to a period of
incarceration in the Bastille which delays his departure
for England. May: arrives on the Betty at Gravesend, and
travels to London. Renews his friendship with the silk-
merchant Everard Fawkener, and lives for a time at his
house in Wandsworth. Begins to learn English, and by
the autumn is attending performances of Shakespeare
( Hamlet, Othello, Julius Caesar) at Drury Lane and
Lincoln's Inn Fields. Renews his friendship with
Bolingbroke, and during the winter months uses his
address in Pall Mall. Meets Alexander Pope several
times, but has closer links with John Gay (who shows
him The Beggar's Opera before its first performance)
and with Jonathan Swift. Reads Gulliver's Travels on
publication and urges his friend Thiriot to translate the
work into French. Discusses metaphysics with Samuel
Clarke, then Rector of St James's, Piccadilly.
1727 English newspapers report that the 'famous French
poet' has been presented to George I, and later in the
year he receives from Walpole a 'free gift and Royal
Bounty' of £200. Meets the prominent Quaker Andrew
Pitt at his house in Hampstead; is in London on the day

-xxxvii-

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