In 1720, he visited Lord Bolingbroke, an influential English writer, beginning a connection with English intellectuals that served him well throughout his lifetime.
As his reputation grew, he became a favorite with royalty, accepting substantial gifts from the kings of England and France, but even this did not protect him from attack.
He attracted many admirers as well as many critics; his open anticlerical stance was particularly controversial and led to many of his works being censored.
He was a Deist for much of his life, and was skeptical of most established political and religious institutions, though he strove for objectivity in his writings.
He lived there from May 1726 to March 1729, meeting with King George I, Bolingbroke, Jonathan Swift, and other influential members of English society.
He learned English and read several works that strongly impacted his thought, including Alexander Pope's Essay on Man, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, and John Locke's Essay on Human Understanding.In 1717, Francois-Marie again mocked the regent in verse, but instead of being exiled he was sent to the Bastille for a year.While there, he wrote one of his greatest poems: La ligue; ou Henry le Grand (The League, or Henry the Great), an epic poem on the subject of Henry IV and his advancement of religious freedom.He also discovered Shakespeare, whose “barbaric” but powerful poetry and insights into character inspired and perplexed Voltaire throughout his time in the theater.During this period Voltaire also tried writing in English, publishing the Essay on Civil Wars (1727) and the Essay on Epic Poetry (1727) and releasing a revision of his poem on Henry IV as The Henriade, a tremendous popular success which he dedicated to the English queen.Abbé Châteauneuf also introduced his godchild to his lover, the courtesan Ninon de Lenclos, who further encouraged his studies in philosophy and literature, and took him to the Société du Temple, a group of hedonistic libertines who rejected Christianity and embraced humanism.Thus, even in his adolescence, Francois-Marie developed a strong foundation for the philosophy he would espouse as Voltaire. Each volume has autograph of Oliver Ellsworth, third chief justice of the United States. Translation of Essay sur l'histoire générale et sur les moeurs et l'esprit des nations, depuis Charlemagne jusqu'à nos jours.The production of his Oedipe in November of that year was a tremendous critical and financial success.In February 1719, Francois-Marie changed his name, first to Arouet de Voltaire and then to Voltaire.