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Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck (1862 - 1949)

Maeterlinck was born in Ghent to a wealthy family where his father was a notary. He was educated at a Jesuit college in Sainte-Barbe which he left with a distaste for the church. Following family encouragement, he studied law at the University of Ghent from which he graduated in 1885 but he followed a career in literature writing plays to great acclaim from the Symbolist fraternity.

His parents' opposition to his relationship from 1895 to 1918 with the married Georgette Leblanc prompted him to move to Passy, Paris, and thence to Grasse in the following year. But he rented the Abbey at Saint-Wandrille-Rançon in Normandy for summer months between 1907 and 1914,

He embraced socialist principles in support of striking workers, donating to several union and worker causes and gave patriotic speeches during the war.

His works experienced a declining international interest between the wars although remaining strong in France. He spent the Second World War in America returning to France in 1947.

Maeterlinck achieved several honours having in 1903 been awarded the Triennial Prize for Dramatic Literature from the Belgian government and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911. The French Academy awarded him, in 1948, the Medal for the French Language, and he became president of Pen International from 1947.

He died of a heart attack in Nice.