Born in Paris on April 2nd; his father is a civil engineer of Italian origin;
his mother comes from a large
family of modest means in Dourdan.
_1845 - 1858
The family lives in Aix-en-Provence.
In Paris, after failing his
baccalaureate, Zola sets out on a
career as a journalist. He continues
in this career until 1900.
A precursory commitment in favour of Edouard Manet who scandalises critics and the art world with his Olympia and Déjeuner sur l'herbe in particular (1863). When Le Fifre is refused at the 1866 Salon, Zola publishes a virulent article in favour of the painter (January 1867, Revue du XIX° siècle). For ten years or so he will remain a "fellow traveller" of Manet and the Impressionists.
He writes and publishes The
Rougon-Macquart novels, a great
naturalist panorama that recounts
the natural and social history of
a family during the second Empire.
The royalties from L’Assommoir
enable him to buy a modest house
on the banks of the Seine in Médan.
Publication of Les Soirées de
Médan, a collection of short stories
by Zola, Maupassant and their
friends: the village gains literary
fame and becomes a legendary site.
May 26th: Le Figaro publishes
Pour les juifs, (For the Jews), Zola’s
first public intervention which
denounces “the return of barbarous
demonstrations take place across
France, to cries of “Death to the
Jews!” Police reports feared “
a new St. Bartholomew’s Day
massacre”. Theodor Herzl
publishes “The Jewish State”.
A series of articles in favour of
Dreyfus appears in Le Figaro.
The trial that convicted an innocent
man needs to be reviewed.
January 13th: L’Aurore publishes
J’accuse... ! , the letter-indictment
to French President Félix Faure:
“Let them dare, then, to bring me
before a court of law and let the
inquiry take place in the clear
light of day!”
July 18th: Zola is found guilty and
goes into exile in England. Creation
of the League for the Rights of Man.
The “Intellectuals” take up his cause.
The French Appeals Court, the Cour
de Cassation, overturns Zola’s
conviction. He returns to France.
September 29th: Zola dies of
asphyxiation in Paris under
the first “Pilgrimage to Médan”.
Every year since then, on the first
Sunday in October, personalities
from the literary and political worlds
make speeches in Médan to
commemorate Émile Zola’s death.
Émile Zola’s ashes are transferred
to the Panthéon.