Author Profile: Honoré de Balzac

I haven’t actually read anything by de Balzac. But he’s my new favourite author. The man is a legend. A prodigious talent. Not because he’s famous for writing a series of 100 novels and plays about French life post Napoleon. But because he famously drank up to 50 coffees a day. And none of the namby pamby “french press” stuff. He was on the hard stuff. The hardest stuff. Spiscious Turkish Coffee. That’s pretty much coffee sludge.

Here’s a description of his work habits from his wikipedia entry:

“Balzac’s work habits are legendary – he did not work quickly, but toiled with an incredible focus and dedication. His preferred method was to eat a light meal at five or six in the afternoon, then sleep until midnight. He then rose and wrote for many hours, fueled by innumerable cups of black coffee. He would often work for fifteen hours or more at a stretch; he claimed to have once worked for 48 hours with only three hours of rest in the middle.”

And here’s some info on his coffee addiction from a Neatorama profile of famous people and their addictions:

“The famous French author would drink up to fifty cups of coffee every single day. And not stuff watered down with milk and sugar and the like – nope, Balzac liked thick, black, Turkish coffee. If it was unavailable in liquid form, or if he didn’t want to wait for it, he simply popped a handful of beans into his mouth and chewed (yuck). It may have kept him up all hours so he could write fantastic and prolific works of literature, but it didn’t do him any favors in the health department: he suffered from stomach cramps, high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. Some reports say it was the coffee that killed him – ulcers ate completely through his stomach and he died from a combination of that and caffeine poisoning.”