Birth and background / Early Life Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright from 1645– 1673, actor, and poet. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and literature. He was born on Jan. 15, 1622, in Rue Saint Honoré, Paris, France. His father was a successful upholsterer who held the post of official furnisher at the royal court. Molière had been attracted to the theater since childhood. Education Jean Baptiste received his early education at the College de Clermont, a Jesuit school. He proceeded to study law and was awarded his law degree in 1642. It was a strict academic environment, but with its emphasis on theatre and performing, it was here where he got his first taste for life on the stage. Starts in Theatre Although his father intended him to take over his royal appointment, the young man renounced it in 1643, apparently determined to break with tradition and seek a living on the stage. Since the theater life was not considered very respectable, he assumed the name "Molière" to spare embarrassment to his family. His life took a turn in 1643 when he started a theatre company, Illustre Théâtre (Illustrious Theatre Company).