Alphonse Daudet was born on May 13, 1841, in Nimes. Daudet, the son of poor factory workers, went to Paris in 1857, where he published his first volume of poetry, "Les Amoureuses," just a year later. In that same year, he got a position with "Figaro." From 1860 until 1865, he had a position as secretary to the Duke of Morny, who was a powerful minister and the half brother of Napoleon III. Beginning in 1866, Alphonse Daudet's humoristic, Naturalistic-leaning "Lettres de mon moulin" appeared as a series in "Figaro."
This brought him a certain level of recognition. His first larger work, "Le Petit Chose" (1868), aroused little interest. More attention was gained by his story cycle "Tartarin," which was begun in 1872 and exemplifies the boasts of the bourgeois of southern France. "Tartarin de Tarascon" (1872), "Tartarin sur les Alpes" (1885), and "Port Tarascon" (1890) all belong to this series. Daudet's first great success was his "Fromont jeune et Risler aîné" (1874), which struck a new chord in the French literary tradition.
Because of this success, he had to concentrate on novels for the next years and published such successful works as "Jack" (1876), the story of an illegitimate child, which was followed by more stories later. In the spirit and method of Charles Dickens, Daudet developed his own somewhat Impressionistic style in his works. In contrast to Edmond de Goncourt, he did not convey a constant feeling of toil and pain, but he was rather a "charmeur," as Émile Zola named him, giving a sense of happiness and excitement. As a close friend of Goncourt, Flaubert, and Zola, Alphonse Daudet belonged to the Naturalist school of prose. His experiences, his milieu, the men whom he knew, and the people who played a more or less important role in Paris life were all worked into his novels.
Alphonse Daudet died on December 16, 1897, in Paris.