Voltaire, born Fran?ois Marie Arouet, came from a cultured, middle-class family. He received a classical education at a Jesuit school and went on to study law. He was a clever and intelligent boy, wrote poetry, and loved the theater, which sparked his decision to pursue a literary career. Voltaire spent much of his life exiled from Paris, due to his often offensive satirical verses aimed at those in power. This injustice on the part of the French monarchy and high ruling officials influenced his interest in philosophical, religious, and political freedom, the rights of writers, and the plight of the persecuted. While in prison, and later while living in England (where he envied the country's more liberal attitudes towards freedom of expression), as well as during stays in other parts of France, Switzerland, and at the court of Frederick II of Prussia, Voltaire continued to write. His prodigious output includes the first so-called "modern" historical treatises, philosophical poetry, a massive correspondence, novels, and tragic plays. By his 30s, Voltaire was a respected man of letters and had amassed a considerable fortune. As an Enlightenment thinker, he defended the extremes of rationalism, and had an enormous influence on the intellectuals who helped bring about the French Revolution. At the age of 83, Voltaire returned at last to Paris where he was met by a welcoming crowd. A few weeks later he died, at the age of 83. He reportedly wrote his masterpiece, CANDIDE, in only three days.