François-Marie Arouet (French: [fʁɑ̃swa maʁi aʁwɛ]; 21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume M. de Voltaire (; also US: ; French: [vɔltɛːʁ]), was a French Enlightenment writer, philosopher (philosophe), satirist, and historian. Famous for his wit and his criticism of Christianity (especially of the Roman Catholic Church) and of slavery, Voltaire was an advocate of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.
Voltaire was a versatile and prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, histories, but also scientific expositions. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and 2,000 books and pamphlets. Voltaire was one of the first authors to become renowned and commercially successful internationally. He was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties and was at constant risk from the strict censorship laws of the Catholic French monarchy. His polemics witheringly satirized intolerance and religious dogma, as well as the French institutions of his day. His best-known work and magnum opus, Candide, is a novella which comments on, criticizes and ridicules many events, thinkers and philosophies of his time, most notably Gottfried Leibniz and his belief that our world is the "best of all possible worlds".