Pierre Beaumarchais

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Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (French pronunciation: [pjɛʁ bomaʁʃɛ]; 24 January 1732 – 18 May[1] 1799) was a watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, arms dealer, and revolutionary (both French and American). He was best known, however, for his theatrical works, especially the three Figaro plays.


Humble beginnings

Beaumarchais was born Pierre-Augustin Caron, the only boy among the six children of a watchmaker. There were ten children, six daughters and four sons but his three brothers all died young. The family was comfortable and Caron had a peaceful and happy childhood, in contrast to much of his adult life. Caron left school at the age of 13 to apprentice under his father. In July of 1753, at the age of 21, he invented an escape mechanism for watches that allowed them to be made substantially more accurate and compact.[2] One of his greatest feats was a watch mounted on a ring, made for Madame de Pompadour, a mistress of Louis XV. The invention was later recognised by the Académie des sciences, but only after a dispute with M. Lepaute, the royal watchmaker, who attempted to pass off the invention as his own.[3]

Business, politics, arts, and entertainment

In 1758-59, Caron became the harp tutor to King Louis XV's daughters. In 1759-60, Caron met Joseph Pâris-Duverney, an older and wealthy entrepreneur. The two became very close friends and collaborated on many business ventures. Shortly after his first marriage in 1756-57, Caron adopted the name "Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais", which he derived from "le Bois Marchais", the name of a piece of land inherited by his first wife.[3]

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