Marie-Jeanne de Heurles du Laboras (one variant of her birth name) was born in the Parisian quartier of Les Halles, where she lived her entire life. Her father Christophe de Heurles du Laboras (or du Labourat) abandoned her and her mother Marie-Marguerite Dujac when she was an infant to return to his first wife in Troyes after being caught in bigamy. Marie-Jeanne was then raised in a religious institution and was intended to take the veil as a nun. Instead, in 1734, she married Antoine-François Riccoboni, a famous actor with the Comédie Italienne. The marriage was unhappy and the couple soon separated. Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni got work as an actress herself and had some success as a beautiful comedian. She also served as the editor of a periodical called L'Abeille, and wrote novels, beginning with the remarkable Lettres de mistriss Fanni Butlerd (1757). She was a regular at the salons of the philosophes, where she met and later corresponded with prominent figures such as Adam Smith, David Hume, and David Garrick.