Rostand, Edmond(-Eugene) (b. April 1, 1868, Marseille, Fr.--d. Dec. 2, 1918, Paris)
French dramatist best known for his play Bergerac, Cyrano de (1898), which represents a final, belated example of Romantic drama in France.
Rostand published poems and essays and wrote plays for puppet theater before his first play, a one-act farce entitled Le Gant rouge (The Red Glove), was performed in 1888. He continued to write poetry and drama, and in 1894 his first successful play, Les Romanesques (The Romancers or The Fantasticks), was produced. His most popular and enduring work was the heroic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac. (The connection between the Cyrano of the play and the 17th-century writer of the same name is purely nominal.) The plot revolves around the gallant Cyrano, who, despite his many gifts, feels that no woman can ever love him because of his enormous nose. First performed in Paris in 1897, Cyrano made a great impression in France and throughout Europe and the United States.
Rostand wrote a good deal for the theater, but the only other play of his that is still much remembered is L'Aiglon (1900; "The Eaglet"). This highly emotional patriotic tragedy in six acts centers on Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt, who never ruled and died of tuberculosis as a virtual prisoner in Austria. Sarah Bernhardt played the title role during its first run in 1900. Rostand was elected to the Academie Francaise in 1901. After L'Aiglon , Rostand wrote only two more plays, Chantecler (1910) and La Derniere Nuit de Don Juan (The Last Night of Don Juan), published posthumously in 1921.