The French playwright and actor Jean Baptiste Poquelin took the name Molière in 1644.

Born 1622 in Paris, France, died 1673. In his youth he was inspired by the commedia dell'arte and the farces played in the local marketplaces. At the age of 21 he started his own theater group, Illustre-Théâtre, but it soon went bankrupt. However, it was not long before he was the head of a traveling theater group, touring the countryside for 13 years. During this time Molière also started writing, and in 1658 he returned to Paris.

He was discovered by king Louis XIV, and soon became responsible for the Royal Theatre. He performed - often improvised - at Versailles whenever the royal family had guests.

He started to write satiric plays in 1659 with Les Précieuses ridiculesThe Affected Young Ladies. Following this, he wrote L'École des maris about marriages in 1661 and L'École des femmesThe School for Wives - in 1662.

His masterpiece Le Tartuffe, ou l'imposteurThe Imposter - came in 1664 and was expanded in 1669. Tartuffe received heavy criticism from the church, which it ridiculed. With Tartuffe, Molière starts combining comedy with tragedy, and this continues with Dom Juan ou Le Festin de PierreDon John/ The Libertine, 1665 and Le MisanthropeThe Plain-Dealer/ - in 1666. In this, the main character Alceste reaches beyond his social context, breaking the standards of the time, although to the modern world he looks like a tragic idealist.

Molière continues his tragicomic path with the plays Les Femmes savantesThe Blue-Stockings* - in 1672, L'Avare - The Miser - in 1673 and the classic Le Malade imaginaire - The Hypochondriac/The Imaginary Invalid - in 1673. This, his last famous piece, deals with the hypocrisy of the era's doctors and their science. During the fourth performance of this play, which Molière himself starred in, he became ill and was rushed away, dying. Not having been given the sacraments, he was buried without ceremony, after sunset a couple of days later.

Molière's legacy will be that of comedy, satire and criticism of the rigid social structures of his time. He renewed the comedies of character and farce. As an actor, he was the Charlie Chaplin of the 17th century, with intensity and passion as cornerstones.

Major works:

Les Précieuses ridicules                1659
Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire        1660
L'École des maris                       1661
Les Fâcheux                             1661
L'École des femmes                      1662
L'impromptu de Versailles               1663
Le Mariage forcé                        1664
Tartuffe ou l'Imposteur                 1664-69
Dom Juan ou Le Festin de Pierre         1665
L'Amour médecin ou les Médecins         1665
Le Misanthrope                          1666
Le Médecin malgré lui                   1666
La Pastorale comique                    1666
Le Sicilien ou l'Amour peintre          1667
Amphitryon                              1668
George Dandin ou le Mari confondu       1668
L'Avare                                 1668
Monsieur de Pourceaugnac                1669

Les Amants magnifiques                  1670
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme                1670
Les Fourberies de Scapin                1671
La Comtesse d'Escarbagnas               1671
Les Femmes savantes                     1672
Le Malade imaginaire                    1673

*It appears as if "Les Femmes Savantes" is commonly referred to by the name "The learned women" - as Ichiro2k3 claimed in a /msg. But in the first English translation of the play made in 1927 by V. Beringer and M. Down it was called The Blue-Stockings.

2002.11.28@10:05 Linca says re Molière: At that time, all actors were buried without ceremony anyway - it doesn't have much to do with his not receiving the sacraments.
2004.9.25@5:18 Ichiro2k3 says re Molière: "Les femmes savantes" means "The learned women," not "the blue stockings." Unless there's some other reason it's translated that way.

reference:, for English terminology

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.