Guy de Maupassant: Biography, Quotes & Facts

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Guy de Maupassant was a French writer who wrote during the nineteenth century and is considered one of the most famous French writers. In this lesson, we will learn all about Guy de Maupassant's life.

Meet Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant once said, 'Words dazzle and deceive because they are mimed by the face. But black words on a white page are the soul laid bare.' To him, words acted as a window to the soul. Guy de Maupassant published over 300 short stories during his career. And if you think that's a lot, it doesn't even count his novels, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Guy de Maupassant was a prolific writer during the nineteenth century in France. Many consider his first short story Boule de Suif to be his best work. In this lesson, we will discuss Guy de Maupassant's life.

Early Life

Born on August 5, 1850 in the Castle Miromesnil in France, Guy de Maupassant was a sweet young boy who had a knack for storytelling from a young age. He had two younger brothers. He completed his primary school education at the local church. After his mother and father divorced in 1861, Maupassant stayed with his mother. Through her parenting, he was exposed to literature, which would set him on the path to becoming a writer.

Guy de Maupassant met Gustave Flaubert, a French writer, in high school in 1867. His mother, seeing his love for literature, encouraged him to connect with Flaubert, which paid off later in his life. As Maupassant said, 'It is the lives we encounter that make life worth living.' By 1868, he had earned his baccalaureate and started to study law up until the Franco-Prussian War (also known as the Franco-German War) began in 1870. He served in the military in 1870, and his experiences helped him write amazing stories.

After the war ended, he relocated to Paris, where he remained for ten years. His father helped him get a job with the Ministry of Marine and the Ministry of Public Instruction. During his time in Paris, he reunited with Gustave Flaubert who took it upon himself to train Maupassant in literature and help him jumpstart his career. Through Flaubert, Maupassant met famous writers like Henry James and Emile Zola.


With the help of Flaubert, Maupassant began making a name for himself by writing short stories and newspaper articles. Boule de Suif, his first major short story, was published in 1880 and is still considered his best short story. The story is set during the Franco-Prussian War and centers around characters in a carriage traveling from Rouen to Le Havre. Following the publication of Boule de Suif, Maupassant began to write furiously for over a decade. Not only that, but the story set him up for life, as editors commissioned him for stories for many years to come. His work was highly sought after, and they often sold out. His first short story collection La Maison Tellier went through twelve editions in two years because of its popularity.

Between 1880 and 1890, Maupassant wrote six novels: Une Vie, Bel-Ami, Mont-Oriol, Pierre et Jean, Fort comme la mort, and Notre Cœur. He also produced short stories at an incredible rate, with at least one collection published each year.

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