Henri Ren Albert Guy de Maupassant (Aug 5, 1850 - Jul 6, 1893) is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and his work influenced Somerset Maugham, O. Henry, Anton Chekhov and Henry James among others. He was a popular French writer and fought in the Franco-Prussian war as a young man. He drew heavily on that experience and that war provides the setting for many of his stories which often depict the tragedy and suffering of innocent civilians caught in war's path. He also found inspiration in the not-so-admirable behavior of the bourgeoisie and they too are the subject of his biting pessimism.
Maupassant suffered from mental illness in his later years and attempted suicide on January 2nd, 1892. He was committed to a private asylum in Paris and died the following year.
His most famous work for English readers is probably The Necklace. If you are unfamiliar with his works, also consider A Piece of String, Mademoiselle Fifi, Miss Harriet, My Uncle Jules, Found on a Drowned Man and The Wreck as starting points.