Voltaire was the nom de plume of Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778). One of the most famous French writers, his works embrace almost every branch of literature--poetry, drama, romance, history, philosophy, and science. The years between his birth and death overlapped those of famous early scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Edmund Halley, Joseph Priestly, and Benjamin Franklin. Voltaire's writings brought him fame and fortune, but also brought trouble. His advocacy of freedom of speech and religion, along with attacks on the Church and the French nobility, resulted in two prison terms in the Bastille and years of exile from France. Yet Voltaire's works eventually catalyzed the French Revolution, and secured his lasting memory as a hero of all the free world.
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