Here, in a few words, is his story :
Paul Louis Toussaint Héroultwas born almost 123 years ago, the evening of April 10, 1863, into a world of country folk and cottage industries, hardly a portent of his future career.
He is sent for a brief period to England, to stay with an ederly aunt, and then his mother turns to a religious boarding school in Caen in hopes of bringing him into line. The rules are strict, the program austere, a Spartan life that turns him forever against
Fortunately, his father decides to leave Saint-Bénin to start up a new larger tannery near Paris, at Gentilly. Paul is sent as boarder to the Sainte-Barbe Academy, a rather liberal school, more appealing to his independant spirit. the major influence, however, was the fortuitous meeting with an old friend of his father's, Mr. Belliot, a lawyer by profession, highly cultured, with a
magnificent personal library. After school, Paul spends hours there, discovering the joys of reading. Jules Vernes'heroes become his own, especially Cyrus Smith, the engineer, who, you will remember, managed to create the entire industry of the mysterious island from a small steel blade taken from his dog's collar. Science, and particulary, research and discovery, begin to fascinate the young student. His interest reaches its highest point the day he comes upon the famous work of Sainte-Claire Deville, with the unglamorous title, "Aluminum, its properties, its production and applications". The book is like a bomb exploding : he feels certain that the problem set forth by the author is solvable and tells anyone who will listen that he will succeed in producing aluminum by electrical means at a reasonable price.
He now applies himself to studies with total dedication. Aluminum becomes more than a hobby, a passion, an obsession. He enters the prestigious Ecole des Mines after a brillant entrance examination in 1882, at the age of 19. A friendship develops between him and his chemistry professor, who is also fascinated by aluminum.