Eugene Ionesco was a Romanian-French playwright who wrote mostly in French, and one of the foremost figures of the French Avant-garde theatre. He began writing poetry and criticism and did not write his first play until 1948. Having decided to learn English, he was struck by the emptiness of the cliches of daily conversation that appeared in his phrase book. Out of such nonsensical sentences he constructed his first play, The Bald Soprano (1948), which satirizes the deadliness and idiocy of the daily life of a bourgeois society frozen in meaningless formalities. Greatly surprised by the success of the play, Ionesco embarked on a career as a writer of what he called antiplays, which characteristically combine a dream or nightmare atmosphere with grotesque, bizarre, and whimsical humor. He followed The Bald Soprano with other one-act plays in which illogical events create an atmosphere both comic and grotesque, including The Lesson (1950), Rhinoceros (1959), and Exit the King (1962).