Honoré de Balzac (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. In 1832, he conceived a project of writing a collection of books that would describe all aspects of society. Originally called Etudes des Mœurs (Study of Mores), it eventually became known as La Comédie Humaine, which became a slice of French life in the years after the fall of Napoleon.
His attention to detail and realist representation of society earns him the title of one of the founders of realism in European literature. His characters are complex, and not easy to pigeonhole (like real life). He influenced writers such Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino.
Balzac suffered from poor health, poor finances, and personal difficulties all his life. In 1850 he married his longtime love and he died five months later, at the age of 51.