1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Houssaye, Arsène
|←Housman, Laurence||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13
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HOUSSAYE, ARSÈNE (1815-1896), French novelist, poet and man of letters, was born at Bruyères (Aisne), near Laon, on the 28th of March 1815. His real surname was Housset. In 1832 he found his way to Paris, and in 1836 he published two novels, La Couronne de bluets and La Pécheresse. He had many friends in Paris, among them Jules Janin and Théophile Gautier, and he wrote in collaboration with Jules Sandeau. He produced art criticism in L'Histoire de la peinture flamande et hollandaise (1846); semi-historical sketches in Mlle de la Vallière et Mme de Montespan (1860) and Galerie de portraits du XVIIe siècle (1844); literary criticism in Le Roi Voltaire (1858) and his famous satirical Histoire du quarante et unième fauteuil de l'académie française (1855); drama in his Comédiennes (1857); poetry in his Symphonie des vingt ans (1867), Cent et un sonnets (1873), &c.; and novels, Les Filles d'Ève (1852) and many others. In 1849, through the influence of Rachel, he was entrusted with the administration of the Théâtre Français, a position he filled with unfailing tact and success until 1859, when he was made inspector-general of works of art. He died on the 26th of February 1896.
His Confessions, souvenirs d'un démi-siècle appeared in 1885-1891. See also J. Lemaître, Arsène Houssaye (1897), with a bibliography.
His son, Henry Houssaye (1848- ), the historian, was born in Paris. His early writings were devoted to classical antiquity, studied not only in books but on the actual Greek sites which he visited in 1868. He published successively Histoire d'Apelles (1867), a study on Greek art; L'Armée dans la Grèce antique (1867); Histoire d'Alcibiade et de la république athénienne depuis la mort de Périclès jusqu'à l'avenement des trente tyrans (1873); Papers on Le Nombre des citoyens d'Athènes au Vème siècle avant l'ère chrétienne (1882); La Loi agraire à Sparte (1884); Le Premier Siège de Paris en 52 av. J.-C. (1876); and two volumes of miscellanies, Athènes, Rome, Paris, l'histoire et les mœurs (1879), and Aspasie, Cléopatre, Théodora (6th ed. 1889). The military history of Napoleon I. then attracted him. His first volume on this subject, called 1814 (1888), went through no fewer than forty-six editions. It was followed by 1815, the first part of which comprises the first Restoration, the return from Elba and the Hundred Days (1893); the second part, Waterloo (1899); and the third part, the second abdication and the White Terror (1905). He was elected a member of the French Academy in 1895.