The French writer and philosopher Voltaire [real name: François Marie Arouet] (1694–1778) enjoyed, as the son of a wealthy notary, a humanist education. In 1719, he came to notice with his first tragedy Œdipe; his epic Henriade (1723) made him famous throughout Europe. In 1726, he fled the threat of arrest to England, where he lived until 1729. He published the Letters concerning the English Nation (1733; the French version, Lettres philosophiques, appeared in 1734) on his stay there. Alongside Montesquieu's De l'esprit des lois it became the key work of Anglophilia. Following his return, he occupied himself with the study of mathematics and the natural sciences. His Éléments de la philosophie de Newton (1738) made Newton's cosmology well-known on the continent. Between 1749 and 1753, he lived in Potsdam in response to an invitation from Frederick II., and from 1758 at the Ferney Castle near Lake Geneva. During this period, he published, amongst other works, historical studies and his most famous text Candide ou l'optimisme (1759).
Voltaire [real name: François Marie Arouet] (1694–1778), copperplate engraving, unknown date, unknown artist, scan: Gabor; source: Müller-Baden, Emanuel (ed.): Bibliothek des allgemeinen und praktischen Wissens zum Studium und Selbstunterricht in den hauptsächlichsten Wissenszweigen und Sprachen, Berlin 1905, vol. 5, p. 36, Whttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Voltaire_oval.jpg, public domain.,