Michel de Montaigne
(1533 - 1592)
At the age of thirty-seven in 1570, Montaigne sold his seat in the Bordeaux parliament, and around two years later, working in the tower of his chateau, began composing essays. He published the first of three books in 1580 with a prefatory “To the Reader” that included the observation, “I am myself the matter of my book; you would be unreasonable to spend your leisure on so frivolous and vain a subject.” While in Italy in the fall of 1581, Montaigne learned that he had been elected mayor of Bordeaux, a position he reluctantly accepted at the behest of Henry III. He died at the age of fifty-nine in 1592.