Staël, Madame de (17661817)

Staël, Madame de, distinguished French lady, born in Paris, daughter of Necker, and only child; a woman of eminent ability, and an admirer of Rousseau; wrote “Letters” on his character and works; married a man ten years older than herself, the Baron de Staël-Holstein, the Swedish ambassador in Paris, where she lived all through the events of the Revolution in sympathy with the royal family; wrote an appeal in defence of the queen, and quitted the city during the Reign of Terror; on her return in 1795 her salon became the centre of the literary and political activity of the time; the ambition of Napoleon excited her distrust, and forced her into opposition so expressed that in 1801 she was ordered to leave Paris within 24 hours, and not to come within 40 leagues of it; in 1802 she was left a widow, and soon after she went first to Weimar, where she met Goethe and Schiller, and then to Berlin; by-and-by she returned to France, but on the publication of her “Corinne,” was ordered out of the country; after this appeared her great epoch-making work on Germany, “L'Allemagne,” which was seized by the French censors; after this she quitted for good the soil of France, to which she had returned; settled in Switzerland, at Coppet, where she died (17661817).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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