Maison de Balzac

Maison de Balzac (16)

At number 47 Rue Raynouard lived the novelist Honoré de Balzac between 1840 and 1847. He lived there under the pseudonym of Monsieur de Brugnol to escape from his creditors. During the period he lived here he wrote some of his best Works, among them “Cousin Bette”.

Balzac was the most important novelist of the first half of the 19th century and the major representative, along with Flaubert, of the realist novel. Balzac is considered as the father of the modern novel.

He was born in Tours in 1799 and came to Paris in 1816 to study Law. Fortunately for the history of literature, he abandoned his studies to devote himself to writing. His first works were signed under pseudonyms. His failures encouraged him to go into different businesses related to the publishing world. These business adventures were also a failure and he ended up with loads of debts.

The first work published under his name was “The Chouans”, which did not sell well but enabled him to get better known. As the years passed he became somewhat of a celebrity and the most prolific author in Paris. Balzac spent 15 hours per day writing, in complete isolation and drinking litres of black coffee.

The house is currently a library with some of the originals by Balzac and a museum with his belongings and mementos. 

The house has a back entrance in Rue Berton and he used it regularly to escape from unwanted visitors such as creditors. This street still conserves its traditional charm.

In 1833 he met the great love of his life, the Russian countess Eveline Hanska. They kept up a long relationship by correspondence for 18 years. He even travelled to Russia. He finally married her in 1850, 5 months before Balzac died. The Madame Hanska room is dedicated entirely to her memory.

The Balzac house is not the only place where the novelist has a presence. In the Montparnasse district, at the junction of Boulevard Raspail and Boulevard du Montparnasse stands a statue dedicated to the author and built by Auguste Rodin in 1939. The statue measures some 3 metres. Balzac’s tomb can be visited in the cemetery of Père Lachaise. 

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