Voltaire (1694-1778) was a noted French playwright, poet, short story writer and most importantly, political satirist, who is remembered as one of the foremost philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. Voltaire believed in personal freedom and a person's duty to use reason in challenging social and political abuses, as well as religious intolerance. In 1725, following a brief bout in prison, Voltaire departed for England where he spent the next three years in the company of intellectuals like Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. After his return to France, Voltaire set out to write "Lettres Philosophiques", or "Letters on England", in which he challenged the old regime of France with brief, epigrammatic essays on the political liberty, religious tolerance and commercial enterprise of the British. The work – which was soon condemned by the French censor and all copies ordered to be seized – praises the English political and trade systems, the peaceful interaction between Quakers, Anglicans, Presbyterians and other religious orders, and the works of British icons like Francis Bacon, John Locke, Isaac Newton and William Shakespeare.
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