Alfred de Musset was born in Paris to an impoverished upper class family. His mother was a society
hostess who received many literary figures; and his father was a moderately ranking government
official who published a biography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1821. As a boy, de Musset
revelled in acting roles in brief plays of his own composition.
He was educated at Lycee Henri IV from the age of nine until leaving at age seventeen
having won the Concours general prize in Latin. He attempted several, to him, distasteful
professions each of which he abandoned before, finally, choosing a literary career. He published
his first poetry collection in 1829 but, meanwhile, held the post of librarian in the Ministry
of Interior during the Louis Phillipe monarchy from 1830 to 1848 and again as librarian
at the Ministry of Public Instruction from 1853. A second collection, Poesies Nouvelles,
containing his most notable poems, was published in 1852.
A romantic attachment to George Sand from 1833 to 1835 ended unhappily and, in 1837, his
brief engagement to Aimée d'Alton also failed.
His works embraced several plays and romances and he was widely regarded as a leading writer
of the Romantic era. He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 1845 and elected to the Academie
Francaise in 1852.
He died in Paris of an aortic disorder aggravated by alcoholism having been confined by ill
health to his apartment for the last two years of his life. His brother, Paul, published a
biography of Alfred in 1877.