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Louise-Florence-Pétronille Tardieu d'Esclavelles, known to history as Madame d'Epinay, was born at the French fortress of Valenciennes, where her father was the commanding officer. He was killed in battle when Louise was 9, and she was sent to Paris to be raised by an aunt. In 1745, Louise married her cousin Denis-Joseph de la Live d'Epinay, marquis d'Epinay. The marriage was unhappy, and the couple separated a few years later. Madame d'Epinay began to spend her time with literary figures such as Rousseau, Diderot, Jacob Grimm, and other leaders of the French Enlightenment, establishing a brilliant salon at her home at the Château of La Chevrette in the valley of Montmorency, a few miles north of Paris. She was a guest of Voltaire in Switzerland during 1757 to 1759. Her best known works are her autobiographical writings and her prolific correspondence.
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