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Julie-Jeanne-Éléanore de Lespinasse was the illegitimate daughter of a French aristocrat. After her convent education, she became a governess in the home of her mother's legitimate daughter. Here she met Madame du Deffand, the famous salon hostess, who in 1754 invited Julie to come to Paris as her companion. About 10 years later, the two ladies quarreled and Julie moved out. She opened a rival salon that became popular with Enlightenment writers and thinkers (the philosophes), members of the Académie française, and even ministers of state such as Turgot and Malesherbes. Julie was fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian; she was famed for her intelligence, charm, and spontaneity. Jean-Baptiste Le Rond D'Alembert, co-author of the Encyclopédie with Denis Diderot, was her dear friend and went to live in her house. She fell in love a few times but never married. Julie was immortalized by the publication of her passionate letters in 1809 and by Diderot's work "Le rêve de D'Alembert" (1830).
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