Balzac was born in Tours in 1799, where he studied at boarding school and then moved with his family to Paris. He enrolled in the Faculty of Law, worked as a scribe in a studio and discovered his literary vocation at the age of 20.
He became a publisher, printer and finally bought a type foundry. From 1830 onwards, Balzac's literary activity became frenetic: in sixteen years, he wrote around ninety novels.
Balzac travelled a lot in search of money, even throwing himself into desperate and impractical ventures.
He died at the age of 51 of a stroke. The funeral took place solemnly and movingly at Père-Lachaise in Paris.
It was in Venice that he set the short novel Massimilla Doni,written in not even two months,after his return to Paris.According to Eugenio Bucciol,Massimilla Doni's face,seems to have been taken from the profile of Massimilla Galvagna carved in the medallion that commemorates her and that is located in the chapel of San Francesco in the church of San Michele cemetery.
"...The Venetian gondola alone is a whole life apart and gives me a great desire to live in Venice. It is a wonderful invention which I have not yet been able to enjoy as a means of transport; but I confess that I despair of not having had the woman of my thoughts to go around in it, because it must be a great pleasure to ride in a gondola and to be able to talk, laugh, be cradled on the water...".
(Honoré de Balzac)