Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

(1741 - 1803)

Born in Amiens, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos entered the army at the age of eighteen, rising to the rank of capitaine-commandant while writing light verse in his spare time. In 1782 he published the epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, which proved an instant success, selling two thousand copies in the first month. He left the army in 1788, entered the service of the Duke of Orleans, invented the modern artillery shell, and was imprisoned twice during the Reign of Terror but narrowly escaped execution. “His book,” wrote a contemporary of his, “was one of the waves pouring into the ocean of the French Revolution to cleanse the throne.”

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