Michel de Montaigne
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne (1533–1592), commonly known as Michel de Montaigne, was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance and the originator of the genre of the essay. Born near Bordeaux, Montaigne studied law and became a member of the Parliament of Bordeaux in 1557. In 1571, he retired to his castle at Montaigne and began to compose his many essays, on such diverse subjects as friendship, fear, education, and imagination, which were published in three volumes from 1580 to 1588. His work is characterized by skepticism, a desire for truth, and a driving interest in the human character, and has influenced writers across the ages, including Shakespeare, Descartes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Virginia Woolf.