Marie-Sophie Cottin (née Risteau or Ristaud) was born to a family of Protestant merchants and grew up in Bordeaux. She received a classical education at home. At age 19, she married Paul Cottin, a wealthy banker. The couple fled to England during the French Revolution but returned to France to try to safeguard their property. Sophie's husband died bankrupt in 1793, and she retired to the family estate at Champlan, where she began writing novels. Eventually, she returned to live in Paris. She died at age 37. Although obscure today, Madame Cottin was one of the most popular writers of her time and long after her death. Her last book was used as a standard text for French language instruction for decades.