Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was a French novelist, playwright, journalist, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'accuse.
Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.
During his early years, Zola wrote numerous short stories and essays, four plays, and three novels. Among his early books was Contes à Ninon, published in 1864. With the publication of his sordid autobiographical novel La Confession de Claude (1865) attracting police attention, Hachette fired Zola. His novel Les Mystères de Marseille appeared as a serial in 1867.
After his first major novel, Thérèse Raquin (1867), Zola started the series called Les Rougon-Macquart, about a family under the Second Empire.
In Paris, Zola maintained his friendship with Cézanne, who painted a portrait of him with another friend from Aix-en-Provence, writer Paul Alexis, entitled Paul Alexis reading to Zola.