Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712. Abandoned by his father at the age of ten, he left the city in 1728 and from then on wandered Europe, searching for happiness. In 1732 he settled for eight years at Les Charmettes, remembered in his book Confessions. In 1741 he moved to Paris where he met Diderot, in the meantime fathering five children, all of whom he abandoned. His corwning achievement is his work of political philosophy, The Social Contract, which was published in 1762. He died in 1778.
J.M. Cohen, a Cambridge graduate, was the author of many Penguin translations, including versions of Cervantes, Rabelais and Montaigne. He died in 1989.