Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Lord of Montaigne (1533-1592) was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight. His massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written.
Montaigne had a direct influence on Western writers, including Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Albert Hirschman, William Hazlitt,Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stefan Zweig, Eric Hoffer, Isaac Asimov, and possibly, on the later works of William Shakespeare. (Wikipedia)