And then there was Claude Bernard (12 July 1813 – 10 February 1878). He was born in the village of Saint Julien west of the least easterly French border with Switzerland. His father was a small landowner harvesting vineyards and orchards. There is no mention of Claude’s mother, but he had one sibling, a sister. After being taught Latin by the local cure’ Claude began his collegiate career at the university at Lyon nearby. This did not last long, and Claude worked at a pharmacy for two years. He wrote La Rose du Rhône, which was a well-received comedy that was performed locally at the Thèâtre des Cèlestines. This encouraged him to write a full five-act historical drama titled Arthur de Bretagne (= Arthur of Brittany). I have to confess I have not determined if Bernard meant
/1/ Arthur I (29 March 1187 – probably killed in 1203 by or on the orders of King John). Fans of Randall Garrett’s alternative-history fantasy stories, the Lord Darcy series, will recall that there Richard the Lionhearted does not die untimely, but survives. John Lackland never becomes king, and the Plantagenet line, descending from Arthur, continues.
/2/ Arthur II (1262 – 1312; duke of Brittany from 1305 until his death)
/3/ Arthur III (1393 to 1458; Duke of Brittany from 1457 until his death)
Bernard went to Paris in 1834 (age 21!) with his manuscript and a letter of introduction to the literary critic Saint-Marc Girardin (February 12, 1801 – April 11, 1873), then Professor of French Poetry at the Sorbonne. How much of Girardin’s reaction was based on Bernard’s literary output is hard to say, but he advised the young man to seek steady employment. Girardin recommended that Bernard study medicine. The amount of world-class drama that was lost is difficult to guess, but Bernard’s scientific contributions were more than adequate as an offset.