Jean de La Fontaine was born in Chateau-Thierry, Champagne, in central France, the son of a government official. He went to Paris to study medicine and theology, but was drawn to the whirls of social life.

La Fontaine qualified as a lawyer but he returned home in 1647 and assisted his father, a superintendent of forests. He held a number of government posts, but they did not pay much money. In 1647 he married Marie Héricart, an heiress, but the marriage was unhappy and they separated in 1658.

La Fontaine had decided to become a famous writer. In 1658 he left his family and moved to Paris, where he lived his most productive years, devoting himself to writing.

He found many patrons. One of his patrons Nicolas Fouquet, was arrested for embezzlement and treason and sentenced to death. La Fontaine wrote one of his most beautiful poems as an impassioned plea for mercy. He left Paris to avoid arrest and spent soem time in Limousin.

From 1664 to 1672 La Fontaine served as a gentleman-in-waiting to the dowager duchess d'Orleans in Luxemburg, and from 1673 he was a member of the household of Mme de La Sabliere. In 1683 he was elected to the Academie Francaise in recognition of his contribution to French literature.

Among La Fontaine's major works are Contes et Nouvelle en Vers (1664), a collection of tales borrowed from Italian sources, tales of Boccaccio, Rabelais, and other medieval and renaissance masters, these were stories dealt with marital misdemeanors and love affairs and were not written for readers who blushed easily. They went through four editions during La Fontaine's lifetime, but the last edition was banned by the authorities because it was considered too obscene. Later La Fontaine regretted ever having written them.

This text is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License