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Author photo. 1884 carte de visite from photograph of painting by Ernst Hader (LoC Prints and Photographs, LC-USZ62-118849)

1884 carte de visite from photograph of painting by Ernst Hader (LoC Prints and Photographs, LC-USZ62-118849)

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Germaine de Stael, the daughter of a Swiss banker, was "the first woman of middle-class origins to impress herself, through her own genius, on all the major public events of her time---events political, literary, in every sense revolutionary" (Ellen Moers). Mme de Stael presided over a Paris salon in which the greatest minds of the day met and conversed. Her cosmopolitan liberalism so offended Napoleon that he once forbade her to come within 40 miles of Paris. Mme de Stael's writing helped lay the cultural foundations of French romanticism. Her essay De l'Allegmagne (Of Germany) (1810) introduced German romantic poetry and philosophy to the French. Her novels depicted strong-willed heroines driven by passion and intellectual curiosity but constrained by social conventions. (Bowker Author Biography)
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Madame de Staël, née Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker was born in Paris, France, a daughter of Jacques Necker, King Louis XVI's Minister of Finance. Her mother Suzanne Curchod Necker was a famous salonnière and published author whose circle included Edward Gibbon and Denis Diderot. In 1786, she was married to Baron Erik Magnus de Staël, a Swedish diplomat and politician. As the Swedish ambassador, Madame de Staël's husband had political immunity during the early years of the French Revolution, enabling her to remain in France and help others to flee. Then in 1792, she herself was forced to flee to Switzerland. On returning in May 1797, she established her own salon and became a leader of progressive politics and intellectual life in Paris. She was known as a brilliant conversationalist and the epitome of European culture. Her writings included novels, plays, poems, moral and political essays, literary criticism, history, and memoirs. Her work was highly influential in establishing the Romantic movement. She was an open opponent of the rule of the Emperor Napoleon, and he ordered her into exile in 1802. She returned again to Paris in 1814 after he was defeated.
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