He was born in Paris on 1 May 1862, and educated at Jesuit schools in Bordeaux and Paris, entering the École polytechnique in 1882. He published a story in the Clairon as early as 1881, but for some years after the completion of his studies he applied his technical knowledge to the manufacture of tobacco.
He published in succession, Le Scorpion (1887), Chonchette (1888), Mademoiselle Jaufre (1889), Cousine Laura (1890), La Confession d'un amant (1891), Lettres de femmes (1892), L'Automne d'une femme (1893), and in 1894 he made a great sensation by an exaggerated and revolting study of the results of Parisian education and Parisian society on young girls, Les Demi-vierges, which was dramatized and produced with great success at the Gymnase on 21 May 1895. Le Jardin secret appeared in 1897; and in 1900 Les Vierges fortes, and a study of the question of women's education and independence in two novels Frederique and Lea. L'Heureux ménage (1901), Les Lettres A Françoise (1902), La Princesse d'Erminge (1904), and L'Accordeur aveugle (1905) are among his later novels. An amusing picture of modern German manners is given in his Monsieur et Madame Moloch (1906). He had a great success in 1904 with a four-act play La Plusfaible, produced at the Comédie-Française. In 1909 he was elected to the Académie française. He died on 8 April 1941, aged 78.