Jean de La Fontaine was born was born into a wealthy bourgeois family in rural Château-Thierry. As a young man, he studied theology but left it to obtain a law degree. In 1647, he was married to Marie Héricart, a 14-year-old heiress, with whom he had a son, but the union was unhappy and the couple had a formal separation 11 years later. For several years, he served as a master of forests and waterways, a post his father and grandfather had held before him. Around 1656, he started to be a regular visitor to Paris, where he attracted powerful patrons such as Nicolas Fouquet, Superintendent of Finances for King Louis XIV, who gave him a pension. From 1664 to 1672, La Fontaine served as a gentleman-in-waiting to the widowed duchess of Orléans, the king's aunt. For 20 years, he was a member of the household of Madame de La Sablière, whose celebrated salon was a meeting place for scholars, philosophers, and writers. During this time, La Fontaine became one of the most widely-read French poets of the 17th century. In 1665, he published Contes et nouvelles en vers (Tales and Stories in Verse), which was considered scandalous because of its bawdy topics, and which was close in subject and style to the works of François Rabelais. More volumes were to follow. La Fontaine's Fables provided a model for subsequent fabulists in France and across Europe. In 1683, he was elected to the Académie Française, and his fame has never faded. He has been depicted in pictures, statues, books, medals, coins, and postage stamps.