The historical Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac -- as distinct from the title character in the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand -- was born to a notable French family in Paris, although little is known of his early life. As a young man, he joined the army and was wounded at the siege of Arras in 1640. The following year, he gave up his military career to study under the philosopher and mathematician Pierre Gassendi. He became a bold and original novelist, playwright, and poet, part of the "libertine" literature of the first half of the 17th century. His two best-known works, Histoire comique des états et empires de la lune and Histoire comique des états et empires du soleil (English translation: A Voyage to the Moon: with Some Account of the Solar World), combining political satire and science fantasy, actually were published posthumously in 1656 and 1662.
Other works included a tragedy, La Mort d’Agrippine (The Death of Agrippine, 1654), and a comedy, Le Pédant joué (The Pedant Imitated, 1654). The latter appealed to Molière, who based two scenes of his play Les Fourberies de Scapin on it. Cyrano died at age 36 in 1655, possibly after being injured during an attack on his patron, Louis, duc d'Arpajon, or from an unspecified disease.