Jean Francois Marmontel, a French author, born at Bort, Limousin, July 11, 1723, died at Ableville, near Evreux, Dec. 31,1799. Of humble birth, he was educated gratuitously under the Jesuits of Mauriac, and was intended for the priesthood. His love of literature prevented this career, and also withdrew him from commerce, in which his father sought his establishment, and he became professor of philosophy at Toulouse, where his verses took the prize of the floral games. Voltaire, with whom he began a correspondence, induced him to remove to Paris in 1745, where he soon obtained the prize of the French academy for a poem, and produced several tragedies which the genius of Mile. Clairon made eminently successful on the stage. Protected by Mine, de Pompadour, he became in 1753 historiographer of the royal buildings, and in 1758 publisher of the Mercure de France, and thus had a large income. To the Mercure he contributed the Contes moraux, on which his fame chiefly rests, and which have been greatly admired as specimens of light and lively writing. His position as manager of the Mercure was lost after two years in consequence of a satire on the duke d'Aumont, and he was confined for a few days in the Bastile. Admitted into the academy in 1763, he succeeded D'Alembert in 1783 as perpetual secretary.
He left Paris during the revolution, was one of the moderate deputies in the council of the ancients in 1797, and lived again in retirement after the 18th Fructidor. His best theatrical pieces are the tragedies Les Ileraclides and Numitor, the operas Didon and Penelope, and the comic operas Sylvain and Zemire et Azore. He also wrote the romances Belisaire (1767) and Les Incas (1777), collected his articles in the Encyclopedic under the title of Elements de litterature (6 vols., 1787), published a history of the regency of the duke of Orleans, and left treatises, designed for the education of his children, on the French language, logic, metaphysics, and morals, and his own Memoires (4 vols., 1804). A complete edition of his works was published in 18 vols. (1808), and a select edition in 10 vols. (1824). - His son, Louis Joseph, born in Paris in 1789, published two poems of his father, Polymnie and the JVeuvainS de Cyihere, and wrote several poems. He went to Mexico, and subsequently to the United States, leading a vagrant life, and died in a hospital in New York in 1830.