PONSARD, FRANCOIS (1814-1867), French dramatist, was born at Vienne, department of Isere, on the 1st of June 1814. He was bred a lawyer, and his first performance in literature was a translation of Manfred (1837). His play Lucrece was represented at the Thedtre Francois on the 1st of April 1843. This date is a kind of epoch in literature and dramatic history, because it marked a reaction against the romantic style of Dumas and Hugo. He received in 1845 the prize awarded by the Academy for a tragedy " to oppose a dike to the waves of romanticism." Ponsard adopted the liberty of the romantics with regard to the unities of time and place, but he reverted to the more sober style of earlier French drama. The tastes and capacities of the greatest tragic actress of the day, Rachel, suited his methods, and this contributed greatly to his own popularity. He followed up Lucrece with Agnes de Meranie (1846), Charlotte Corday (1850), and others. Ponsard accepted the empire, though with no very great enthusiasm, and received the post of librarian to the senate, which, however, he soon resigned, fighting a bloodless duel with a journalist on the subject. L'Honneur el I'argent, one of his most successful plays, was acted in 1853, and he became an Academician in 1855. For some years he did little, but in 1866 he obtained great success with Le Lion amoureux, another play dealing with the revolutionary epoch. His Galilee, which excited great opposition in the clerical camp, was produced early in 1867. He died in Paris on the 7th of July of the same year, soon after his nomination to the commandership of the Legion of Honour. Most of Ponsard's plays hold a certain steady level of literary and dramatic ability, but his popularity is in the main due to the fact that his appearance coincided with a certain public weariness of the extravagant and unequal style of 1830.
His CEuvres completes were published in Paris (3 vols., 1865- 1876). See La Fin du theatre romantique et Francois Ponsard d'apres des documents inedits (1899), by C. Latreille.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)