On April 1, 1868 in Marseilles, France, Rostand was born to a wealthy family. His father worked as a respected economist and minor poet, also instilling in Rostand an appreciation of literature and the theatre. In his teens Rostand saw his first publications, poems, in a local magazine. Continuing his education he traveled to Paris to the College Stanislas where he did well in the subjects literature, philosophy, and history. Though he then entered law studies, he soon abandoned them, preferring to write plays and pen poems. His poems received some success, giving the reader hope of better poetry to come. He then married Rosemonde Gerard, herself a young poet, and the couple had two boys.
Rostand turned to pursuing writing for the French theatre and achieved moderate interest from critics with three plays: Les Romanesques
, La Princessa Lointaine
, and La Samaritaine
. For a minor playwright Rostand was gaining attention and displaying talent. His romantic idealism provided the French with a refreshing change from the depressing realistic plays they were accustomed to seeing. Then came Rostand's overwhelmingly successful and now infamous play, Cyrano de Bergerac
. Lively, exciting, and in verse, this heroic comedy was based loosely on an actual historic person. Skillful as a soldier and swordsman, de Bergerac excelled also in his wordplay as a poet and philosopher. His belief was that his one drawback, a large nose, inhibited him from being truly loved. Though he could laugh at himself, de Bergerac became a tragic hero, impressing playgoers and helping to instill national pride.
Rostand also became famous and loved by the French. In 1901 he was elected to the Academie Francaise, the youngest man ever to receive the honor. Unfortunately for Rostand, pulmonary congestion plagued him, and he moved to an estate in the Pyrenees to improve his health. Though he continued to write plays, they received much interest but little acclaim. Until his death on December 2, 1918 from pneumonia, Rostand received the attention of a national hero because of singularly impressive play. To this day, Cyrano de Bergerac
is remade both in France and abroad. In fact, Steve Martin played a character based on de Bergerac in the hit movie Roxanne
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