Count Maeterlinck was born into a wealthy family in Ghent, Belgium. His father, Polydore Maeterlinck, was a notary, and his mother was Mathilde Van den Bossche. He was the cousin of Maître A. Maeterlinck, an attorney in Antwerp.
He was educated at the Jesuit College de Ste-Barge and studied law at the University of Ghent. He practiced law in Ghent after obtaining his degree.
Maeterlinck published his first collection of poetry, Serres chaudes, when he was 27. In his Symbolist plays, Maeterlinck used poetic speech, gesture, lighting, setting and ritual to create images that reflect his characters' moods and dilemmas. His writings include a collection of Symbolist poems (Hothouses, 1899) and plays such as Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), Monna Vanna (1902), L'oiseau blue (The Blue Bird) (1908) and The Burgomaster of Stilmonde (1918). JW described him as the 'new Shakespeare' (#06601). He was also noted for his popular treatments of scientific subjects, including The Life of the Bee (1901) and The Intelligence of Flowers (1907). In 1911 he was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.
Encyclopedia Brittanica, (11th edition) 1911, at http://www.1911encyclopedia.org (accessed 2005).