Jean Racine

1639 (La Ferté-Milon, France) – 1699 (Paris)

Racine, with Molière and Corneille, was one of the three great playwrights of 17th C France; both Racine and Corneille are known for their tragedies, Racine’s elegant language and psychological insight eventually eclipsing Corneille’s more elaborate approach. Racine met La Fontaine as a young man, and not long after, Boileau (a great supporter and then close friend) and Molière. He and Molière had a troubled relationship, the older man producing Racine’s first play to be performed publicly; its success led Racine to quickly take it to a rival company, while also seducing Molière’s leading actress – Molière never spoke to him again.