Germaine de Stael (updated version)

File:Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun - Portrait of Madame de Staël as Corinne on Cape Misenum - WGA25074.jpg

Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (French: [stal]; née Necker; 22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a French woman of letters of Genevan origin whose lifetime overlapped with the events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. For many years she lived as an exile under the Reign of Terror and under Napoleonic persecution. Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist, often dressed in flashy and revealing outfits, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life of her times. She was present at the first opening of the Estates General and at the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.[1] Her intellectual collaboration with Benjamin Constant between 1795 and 1811 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time. They discovered sooner than others the tyrannical character and designs of Napoleon.[2] In 1814 one of her contemporaries observed that “there are three great powers struggling against Napoleon for the soul of Europe: England, Russia, and Madame de Staël”.[3] Her works, both novels and travel literature, with an emphasis on passion, individuality and oppositional politics made their mark on European Romanticism.


  • 1. Childhood
  • 2. Marriage
  • 3. Revolutionary activities
  • 4. Salons at Coppet and Paris
  • 5. Conflict with Napoleon
  • 6. German travels
  • 7. Eastern Europe
  • 8. Restoration
  • 9. Offspring
  • 10. In popular culture
  • 11. Works
  • 12. See also
  • 13. References
  • 14. Sources
  • 15. Further reading
  • 16. External links


Germaine Necker by Carmontelle

Germaine (or Minette) was the only child of the prominent Genevan banker and statesman Jacques Necker, who was the Director-General of Finance under King Louis XVI of France. Her mother was Suzanne Curchod, also of Swiss birth, who hosted in Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin one of the most popular salons of Paris.[4] Mme Necker wanted to educate her daughter according to the principles of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and to endow her with the intellectual education and Calvinist discipline instilled in her by her pastor father.[5] On Friday she habitually brought Germaine as a young child to sit at her feet in her salon, where the guests took pleasure in stimulating the brilliant child.[6] At the age of thirteen, she read Montesquieu, Shakespeare, Rousseau and Dante.[7] This exposure occasioned a nervous breakdown in adolescence, but the seeds of a literary vocation had been sown.

Her father “… is remembered today for taking the unprecedented step in 1781 of making public the country’s budget, a novelty in an absolute monarchy where the state of finances had always been kept a secret.”[8] Leading to his dismissal in May, the family eventually took up residence in 1784 at Château Coppet, an estate her father purchased on Lake Geneva. The family returned to the Paris region in 1785, and Mlle Necker continued to write miscellaneous works, including the three-act romantic drama Sophie (1786) and the five-act tragedy, Jeanne Grey (1787).


The Swedish Embassy, Hôtel de Ségur, later Hôtel de Salm-Dyck
At the age of eleven, Germaine offered her mother to marry Edward Gibbon, so he would always be around.[9] In 1783 William Pitt the Younger and the Comte de Guibert, whose conversation was the most far-ranging, spirited and fertile she had ever known.[10] Germaine’s parents became impatient. Finally, a marriage was arranged with Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, an attaché of the Swedish legation to France. It took place on 14 January 1786 in the Swedish embassy at 97, Rue du Bac; Germaine was 20, her husband 37. On the whole, the marriage seems to have been acceptable to both parties, although neither seems to have had any or little affection for the other. The baron, a gambler, obtained great benefits as he received 80,000 pounds and was confirmed as lifetime ambassador to Paris, although his wife was almost certainly the more effective envoy.[11]

Revolutionary activities

In 1788, she published Letters on the works and character of J.J. Rousseau.[12] This fervid panegyric, at first written for a limited number of friends – in which she accused his housekeeper Therese Levasseur having been unfaithful – she demonstrated evident talent, but little in the way of critical discernment. De Staël was at this time enthusiastic about a mixture of Rousseau’s ideas about love and Montesquieu in politics. On 4 and 5 May 1789 she joined the meetings of the Estates-General in Versailles, where she met with the young Mathieu de Montmorency. Her father had instigated the assembling, doubling the number of deputies from the Third Estate. He terribly miscalculated his address at the Estates-General: his speech lasted for hours, and while those present expected a reforming policy to save the nation from bankruptcy, he gave them like a school teacher many financial data. This approach had serious repercussions on Necker’s reputation leading to his resignation on 11 July, and prompted Camille Desmoulins the storming of the Bastille. Her parents left France on the same day in unpopularity and disgrace. Accompanied by their son-in-law, they escaped to Switzerland. Necker had lost half his fortune introducing assignats, invested in the public treasury.[13][14]

The meeting of the Estates General on 5 May 1789 at Versailles

The increasing disturbances caused by the Revolution made her privileges as the consort of an ambassador very important safeguards. Germaine held a salon in the Swedish embassy, where she gave “coalition dinners”, that was frequented by moderates as Talleyrand and De Narbonne, monarchists (Feuillants) as Antoine BarnaveCharles Lameth and his brothers Alexandre and Théodore, the Comte de Clermont-TonnerrePierre Victor, baron Malouet, the poet Abbé Delille, Thomas Jefferson, the one-legged Minister Plenipotentiary to France Gouverneur Morris, the leftish Paul Barras and the radical Condorcets. “The issue of leadership, or rather lack of it, was central to Staël’s preoccupations at this stage of her political reflection. The death of Comte de Mirabeau, a royalist, she experienced as a sign of great political disorientation and uncertainty. He was the only man with necessary charisma, energy, and prestige to keep the revolutionary movement on the path of constitutional reform.”[15]

After the French legislative election, 1791 was held, and the French Constitution of 1791 was announced in the National Assembly, she resigned from a political career and decided not to be re-eligible. “Fine arts and letters will occupy my leisure.”[16] Though, in the succession of Comte de Montmorin the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the appointment of Narbonne as minister of War she played an important role and became the centre of the stage.[17] Marie Antoinette wrote to Hans Axel Fersen: “Count Louis de Narbonne is finally Minister of War, since yesterday; what a glory for Mme de Staël and what a joy for her to have the whole army, all to herself.”[18] In the year 1792 the French Legislative Assembly saw an unprecedented turnover of ministers, six ministers of the interiorseven ministers of foreign affairs, and nine ministers of war.[19] On 10 August 1792 Clermont-Tonnere was thrown out of a window and trampled to death. De Staël offered Malouet a plan to escape for the royal family.[20] She helped De Narbonne, dismissed for plotting, to hide under the altar in the chapel of the Swedish embassy, and then lectured the sans-culottes in the hall.[21][22][23][7]

“Dix Août 1792. Siege et prise du Chateau des Tuileries”: French soldiers and citizens storming the Tuileries to get the royal family and end the monarchy.



On Sunday 2 September, the day the September massacres of 1792 began, she fled her self in the style of an ambassadress. Her carriage was stopped and the crowd forced her to go to the Paris town hall, where Robespierre presided.[24] Robespierre, as well as Marat were militant deputies “…who had got from the Legislative, extensive police powers to detain, interrogate and incarcerate suspects without anything resembling due process of law.”[25] In the evening she was conveyed home, escorted by the procurator Louis Pierre Manuel. The next day the commissioner to the Commune of Paris Jean-Lambert Tallien arrived with a new passport and accompanied her behind a barrier.[26][27]

Salons at Coppet and Paris

Château de Coppet near Nyon

In 1797 Constant and De Staël lived in the remains of the Abbey of Herivaux.




After her flight from Paris Germaine moved to Rolle where Albert was born. She was surrounded by De Montmorency and the Marquis de Jaucourt.[28] In January 1793, she made a four months visit to England to live with her lover, the Comte de Narbonne at Juniper Hall. (Since 1 February France and Great Britain were at war.) Within a few weeks she got pregnant, apparently one of the reasons she caused a scandal in England. According to Fanny Burney, her father urged his daughter to avoid De Staël and the group of French Émigres in Surrey.[1] She met with Horace WalpoleJames MackintoshLord Sheffield, a friend of Edward Gibbon, and Lord Loughborough, the new Lord Chancellor.[1] De Staël was not favourably impressed by the conditions of women in English society.[1] Personal freedom was evidently as important to her as abstract political liberties.[29]Juniper Hall Plaque - - 1397178.jpg

In the summer of 1793, she returned to Coppet Castle perhaps while De Narbonne stopped loving her. She wrote a biased depiction of the character of  the queen, named “Reflections on the Trial”. For De Staël France had to follow England’s example from absolute to limited royalty.[30] Living in Jouxtens-Mézery, Germaine was visited by Adolph Ribbing in July 1793.[7][28]Count Ribbing was living in exile, after being sentenced for taking part in a conspiracy to murder the Swedish king Gustav III. Under his influence it seems she converted more to Republicanism?[28] At the same time, Germaine helped several monarchists to escape from France. Late 1793 her parents moved to Beaulieu Castle. In September 1794 she was visited by the divorced Benjamin Constant. In May 1795 she moved with her new “colleague” to Paris.[31] De Staël had rejected the idea of the right of resistance – which had been introduced by the French Constitution of 1793, but removed from the Constitution of 1795.[32] In 1796 she published Sur l’influence des passions, in which she praised suicide; a book that attracted the attention of the German authors Schiller and Goethe.[33]

Germaine had also an obsession with French politics,[34] and reopened her salon. It was during these years that Mme de Staël was of chief political importance. For a time she was conspicuous in the motley and eccentric society of the mid-1790s. On the 13 Vendémiaire the Comité de salut public ordered her to leave Paris after accusations of politicking and locked up Constant for one night.[35] Germaine spent that autumn in Forges-les-Eaux, a spa. She was trusted by neither side and a threat to political stability.[36] The couple moved to Ormesson-sur-Marne where they lived with Montmorency. In Summer 1796 Constant founded “Cercle constitutionnel” in Luzarches; De Staël supported him.[37] In May 1797 she was back in Paris and eight months pregnant. She succeeded in getting Talleyrand from the list of Émigrés and in July in his appointment as minister of Foreign Affairs.[38] Since the coup of 18 Fructidor anyone wishing to restore the monarchy or the French Constitution of 1793 would be shot without a trial.[39] Germaine moved to Saint-Ouen, on her father’s estate and became friends with the beautiful and rich Juliette Récamier to whom she sold the parental house in the Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin.

De Staël completed the initial part of her first most substantial contribution to political and constitutional theory, “Of present circumstances that can end the Revolution, and of the principles that must found the republic of France”.[8] On 6 December 1797 at Talleyrand’s office and 3 January 1798 during a ball she met with Napoleon. She made clear she did not agree with his planned French invasion of Switzerland. He showed no interest and would not read her letters.[40]

Conflict with Napoleon

Bonaparte in 1803 by François Gérard

Both personal and political reasons threw her into opposition to Napoleon Bonaparte, in August 1802 elected as first consul for life. For De Staël Napoleon started to resemble Machiavelli; for Napoleon J.J. Rousseau was the cause of the French Revolution.[41] It culminated when Jacques Necker had published his “Last Views on Politics and Finance” and his daughter “De la littérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales”. It was her first philosophical approach to Europe, that dealt with such important factors as nationality, history and social institutions.[42] Napoleon started a campaign against this publication. He did not like her cultural determinism and generalizations, in which she stated that “an artist must be of his own time”.[43][44] For him a woman should stick to knitting.[45] He said about her, according to the Memoirs of Madame de Rémusat, that she “teaches people to think who never thought before, or who had forgotten how to think.”[46] It became pretty clear that the first man in France and the De Staël were not likely to get on together.[47] In January 1800 Benjamin Constant was appointed by Napoleon as a member of the Tribunat but not long after he became the first consul’s enemy. Two years later Napoléon forced him to withdraw because of the speeches that he thought were actually written by Mme de Staël.[43]

De Staël published a provoking (anti-catholic) novel Delphine, in which the femme incomprise (misunderstood woman) living in Paris between 1789 and 1792, is confronted with conservative ideas about divorce after the Concordat of 1801. In this tragic novel, influenced by Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Rousseau’s Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, she reflects on the legal and practical aspects on divorce, the arrests and the September Massacres, and the fate of the émigrés. The main characters have traits of the flippant Benjamin Constant, and Talleyrand is depicted as an old woman, herself as the heroine with the liberal view of the Italian aristocrat and politician Melzi d’Eril?[48]

When Constant moved to Maffliers in September 1803 De Staël went to see him and let Napoleon know she would be wise and careful. Immediately the house became very popular among her friends, but Napoleon, informed by Madame de Genlis suspected a conspiracy. “Her extensive network of connections – which included foreign diplomats and known political opponents, as well as members of the government and of Bonaparte’s own family – was in itself a source of suspicion and alarm for the government.”[49] Her protection of Jean Gabriel Peltier – who wished the death of Napoleon – influenced his decision on 13 October 1803 to exile her without a trial.[50] For ten years De Staël was not allowed to settle within a distance of 40 leagues (almost 200 km) from Paris. She accused Napoleon of “persecuting a woman and her children”.[51] On 23 October she left for Germany “out of pride”,[52] in the hope to gain attention and to be able to return as soon as possible.[53]

German travels

Weimar around 1800 by Georg Melchior Kraus
Château de Chaumont

With her children and Constant, she stopped off in Metz and met with Kant‘s translator Charles de Villers. In mid-December, they arrived in Weimar, where she stayed for two and a half months at the court of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his mother Anna Amalia. Germaine was constantly on the move, talking and asking questions.[54][43] Goethe, in fact, became ill and hesitated about seeing her. An irritated Schiller felt relieved when she left, but also Constant decided to abandon her in Leipzig and return to Switzerland. De Staël travelled to Berlin, where she made the acquaintance of August Schlegel who was giving lectures on literature. She appointed him on an enormous salary as the private tutor to her children. On 18 April they all left Berlin when the news of her father’s death reached her.

François Gérard (1770–1837), Carnavalet Museum. Mme. de Staël as her character Corinne (posthumously)

On 19 May she arrived in Coppet and found herself its wealthy and independent mistress, but her sorrow for her father was deep and certainly sincere. She spent the summer at the chateau arranging his writings and published an essay on his private life. In July Constant wrote: “She exerts over everything around her a kind of inexplicable but very real power. If she could only govern herself, she might have governed the world.”[55] In December 1804 she travelled to Italy, accompanied by her children, Schlegel and the historian Sismondi. She met with the poet Monti and the painter, Angelica Kauffman. “Her visit to Italy helped her to further develop her theory of the difference between northern and southern societies…”[1]

She returned to Coppet in June 1805, moved to Meulan (Château d’Acosta) and spent nearly a year writing her next book on Italy’s culture and history. In Corinne, ou L’Italie (1807) the female hero appears to have been inspired by the Italian poet Diodata Saluzzo Roero.[56] She showed all of Italy’s works of art still in place, rather than plundered by Napoleon and taken to France.[57] The book’s publication acted as a reminder of her existence, and Napoleon sent her back to Coppet. Her house became, according to Stendhal, “the general headquarters of European thought” and was a debating club hostile to Napoleon, “turning conquered Europe into a parody of a feudal empire, with his own relatives in the roles of vassal states“.[58] Madame Récamier, also banned by Napoleon, Prince Augustus of PrussiaCharles Victor de BonstettenProsper de BaranteClaude HochetZacharias WernerAdelbert von Chamisso and Chateaubriand all belonged to the “groupe de Coppet”.[59] Each day the table was laid for about thirty guests. Talking seemed to be everybody’s chief activity.

For a time she lived with Constant in Auxerre (1806), Rouen (1807), Aubergenville (1807). Then she met with Friedrich Schlegel, whose wife Dorothea had translated Corinne into German.[60] The use of the word Romanticism was invented by Schlegel but spread more widely across France through its persistent use by Madame de Staël.[61] Late in 1807 she set out for Vienna and visited Maurice O’Donnell.[62] She was accompanied by her children and August Schlegel who held his famous lectures. In 1808 De Staël set to work on her book about Germany – a country that did not exist until Bismarck – in which she presented the idea of Germany as an ethical and aesthetic model and praised German literature and philosophy.[63] The exchange of ideas and literary and philosophical conversations with Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland inspired de Staël to write one of the most influential books of the nineteenth century.[64]

August Wilhelm von Schlegel

Pretending she wanted to emigrate to the US, de Staël was given permission to re-enter France. Looking around in Chaumont-sur-Loire de Staël moved into the Château de Chaumont (1810) owned by the heirs of Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, but then moved on onto Fossé and Vendôme. She was determined to publish De l’Allemagne in France, a book in which she called French political structures into question, so indirectly criticising Napoleon busy promoting French culture and theatre. The minister of police Savary had emphatically forbidden the publication of her book as being “un-French”.[65][66] Ten thousand copies were destroyed, but De Stael succeeded in saving the proof-sheets. In October 1810 de Staël was exiled again and had to leave France within 24 hours. Also, August Schlegel was ordered to leave Swiss Confederation as an enemy of the French literature.[L.M. Child (1836) The biography of Madame de Stael, p. 48]  She found consolation in a wounded officer named Albert de Rocca, twenty-three years her junior, to whom she got married privately in 1811 (and made public by her children in 1816).[43]

Eastern Europe

De Staël in 1812 by Vladimir Borovikovsky
She was at first left undisturbed, but by degrees, the chateau became a source of suspicion, and her visitors found themselves heavily punished. François-Emmanuel Guignard, De Montmorency and Mme Récamier were exiled for the crime of visiting her.[L.M. Child (1836) The biography of Madame de Stael, p. 50-51] She remained at home during the winter of 1811, planning to escape to England with the manuscript. On 23 May 1812 she left Coppet almost secretly, and journeyed through Bern, Innsbruck and Salzburg on her way to Vienna, where she met with Metternich. There she obtained an Austrian passport up to the frontier, and after some trepidation and trouble, received a Russian passport in Brody.

During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia de Staël, her two children and Schlegel journeyed through the Habsburg empire from Brno to Łańcut where Rocca, having deserted the French army and having been searched by the French gendarmerie, was waiting for her. The journey continued to Lemberg, capital of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. On 14 July 1812, they arrived in Volhynia. In the meantime, Napoleon, who took a more northern route, had crossed the Niemen River with his army. In Kiev, she met Miloradovich, governor of the city. De Staël hesitated to travel to OdessaConstantinople, and onto Greece, and decided instead to go north. In Moscow, she was invited by the governor Fyodor Rostopchin.[67] She left only a few weeks before Napoleon arrived. Until the end of September, her party stayed in Saint Petersburg. She met twice with the tsar Alexander I of Russia who “related to me also the lessons a la Machiavelli which Napoleon had thought proper to give him.”

“You see,” said he, “I am careful to keep my ministers and generals at variance among themselves, in order that each may reveal to me the faults of the other; I keep up a continual jealousy by the manner I treat those who are about me: one day one thinks himself the favourite, the next day another, so that no one is ever certain of my favour.”[68]

For de Staël that was a vulgar and vicious theory.[69] General Kutuzov sent her letters from the Battle of Tarutino[70] and before the end of that year, he would succeed in chasing the Grande Armée out of Russia.

After four months of travelling, she arrived in Sweden. The crossing of the Bothnian Gulf by boat frightened her. In Stockholm she started “Ten Years’ Exile”, giving details of whom she had met and explained what she had seen. She never finished the manuscript and after eight months she set out for England, without August Schlegel who had been appointed as secretary to general Bernadotte. (She supported Bernadotte as new ruler of France, who she hoped would introduce a constitutional monarchy.[71]) In London she received a great welcome. She met with Lord Byron on the first evening (27 May). The next day they dined at Sir Humphry Davy‘s, the chemist and inventor. In the evening de Staël had made very long speeches, according to Byron. She preached English politics to the first of our English Whig politicians probably Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne. She preached politics no less to our Tory politicians the day after.”[72] Her stay was marred by the death of her son Albert, who as a member of the Swedish army had fallen in a duel with a Cossack officer in Doberan as a result of a gambling dispute in a coffeehouse. In October John Murray published De l’Allemagne both in a French and English translation, in which she reflected on nationalism and suggested a re-consideration on cultural rather than on natural boundaries.[73] In May 1814, after Louis XVIII had been crowned (Bourbon Restoration) she returned to Paris. She undertook Considérations sur la révolution française, based on Part One of “Ten Years’ Exile”. Again her salon became a major attraction both for Parisians and foreigners.


Lord Byron, ca 1816

When news came of Napoleon’s landing on the Côte d’Azur, between Cannes and Antibes, early in March 1815, she fled to Coppet, and never forgave Constant for approving of Napoleon’s return.[74] Although she had no affection for the Bourbons she succeeded in obtaining restitution for the loan Necker had made to the French state before the Revolution.[75] In October, after the Battle of Waterloo, she set out for Italy, not only for the sake of her own health but for that of her second husband, Rocca, who was suffering from his wounds and tuberculosis. In May her 19-year-old daughter Albertine married Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie in Livorno.

The whole family returned to Coppet in June, and Lord Byron a womanizer and a gambler in debt, left London in great trouble and frequently visited Mme de Staël during July and August. (Bonstetten and Schlegel were still there.) For Byron, she was Europe’s greatest living writer, but …with her pen behind her ears and her mouth full of ink”. “Byron was particularly critical of de Staël’s self-dramatizing tendencies…”[76] Byron was a supporter of Napoleon, but for de Staël “Bonaparte was not only a man but a system…” “Napoleon imposed standards of homogeneity on Europe that is, French taste in literature, art and the legal systems, all of which de Staël saw as inimical to her cosmopolitan point of view.”[76] Byron wrote she was “… sometimes right and often wrong about Italy and England – but almost always true in delineating the heart, which is of but one nation of no country, or rather, of all.”[77]

Benjamin Constant

Despite her increasing ill-health, she returned to Paris for the winter of 1816–17. Constant argued with de Staël who had asked him to pay off his debts to her. A warm friendship sprang up between Madame de Staël and the Duke of Wellington, who came to see her almost every day, and she used her influence with him to have the size of the Army of Occupation greatly reduced.[78] She had already become confined to her house at 40, rue des Mathurins, paralyzed since 21 February. She died on 14 July. Her deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism, after reading Thomas a Kempis, surprised many, including Wellington, who remarked that while he knew that she was greatly afraid of death, he had thought her incapable of believing in the afterlife.[79] Rocca survived her by little more than six months. “Yet although she insisted to the Duke of Wellington that she needed politics in order to live, her attitude towards the propriety of female political engagement varied: at times she declared that women should simply be the guardians of domestic space for the opposite sex, while at others, that denying women access to the public sphere of activism and engagement was an abuse of human rights. This paradox partly explains the persona of the “homme-femme” she presented in society, and it remained unresolved throughout her life.”[80]

Albertine Necker de Saussure, married to her cousin, wrote her biography in 1821, published as part of the collected works. Auguste Comte included Mme de Staël in his Calendar of Great Men. Her political legacy has been generally identified with a stern defence of “liberal” values: equality, individual freedom and the limitation of power by constitutional rules.[81] Comte’s disciple Frederic Harrison wrote about de Staël that her novels “precede the works of Walter Scott, Byron, Mary Shelley, and partly those of Chateaubriand, their historical importance is great in the development of modern Romanticism, of the romance of the heart, the delight in nature, and in the arts, antiquities, and history of Europe.”


Louis-Marie de Narbonne
Beside two daughters, Gustava Sofia Magdalena (born July 1787) and Gustava Hedvig (died August 1789), who died in infancy, she had two sons, Ludwig August (1790–1827), Albert (November 1792–July 1813), and a daughter, Albertine, Baroness de Staël von Holstein (June 1797–1838). It is believed Louis, Comte de Narbonne-Lara was the father of Ludvig August and Albert, and Benjamin Constant the father of red-haired Albertine.[82] With Albert de Rocca, de Staël then aged 46, had one son, the disabled Louis-Alphonse de Rocca (April 1812–1842), who would marry Marie-Louise-Antoinette de Rambuteau, daughter of Claude-Philibert Barthelot de Rambuteau,[43] and granddaughter of De Narbonne.[83] Even as she gave birth, there were fifteen people in her bedroom.[84]

After the death of her husband, Mathieu de Montmorency became the legal guardian of her children. Like August Schlegel he was one of her intimates until the end of her life.

In popular culture

  • Republican activist Victor Gold quoted Madame de Staël when characterizing American Vice President Dick Cheney, “Men do not change, they unmask themselves.”
  • De Staël is credited in Tolstoy‘s epilogue to War and Peace as a factor of the ‘influential forces’ which historians say led to the movement of humanity in that era.[85]
  • The popular wrestling compilation series Botchamania has referenced her on several occasions saying One must choose in life, between boredom and sufferingwhich is normally followed by a humorous joke.
  • Mme de Staël is used several times to characterize Mme de Grandet in Stendhal‘s Lucien Leuwen.
  • Mme de Staël is mentioned several times, always approvingly, by Russia’s national poet, Alexander Pushkin.
  • Mme de Staël is frequently quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson and she is credited with introducing him to recent German thought.[86]
  • Talleyrand observed with his customary cynicism that Germaine enjoyed throwing people overboard simply to have the pleasure of fishing them out of the water again.[87]
  • Sismondi accused De Staël of a lack of tact, when they were travelling through Italy and wrote Mme De Staël was easily bored if she had to pay attention to things.
  • For Heinrich Heine she was the “grandmother of doctrines“.[88]
  • For Byron she always talked about myself or herself. She was “a good woman at heart and the cleverest at bottom, but spoilt by a wish to be — she not was. In her own house she was amiable; in any other person’s, you wished her gone, and in her own again.[89]



Delphine, 1803 edition.


De l’Allemagne

  • Journal de Jeunesse, 1785
  • Sophie ou les sentiments secrets, 1786 (published anonymously in 1790)
  • Jane Gray, 1787 (published in 1790)
  • Lettres sur le caractère et les écrits de J.-J. Rousseau, 1788 [90]
  • Éloge de M. de Guibert
  • À quels signes peut-on reconnaître quelle est l’opinion de la majorité de la nation?
  • Réflexions sur le procès de la Reine, 1793
  • Zulma : fragment d’un ouvrage, 1794
  • Réflexions sur la paix adressées à M. Pitt et aux Français, 1795
  • Réflexions sur la paix intérieure
  • Recueil de morceaux détachés (comprenant : Épître au malheur ou Adèle et Édouard, Essai sur les fictions et trois nouvelles : Mirza ou lettre d’un voyageur, Adélaïde et Théodore et Histoire de Pauline), 1795
  • Essai sur les fictions, translated by Goethe into German
  • De l’influence des passions sur le bonheur des individus et des nations, 1796 [91]
  • Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la Révolution et des principes qui doivent fonder la République en France
  • De la littérature dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales, 1799
  • Delphine, 1802 deals with the question of woman’s status in a society hidebound by convention and faced with a Revolutionary new order
  • Vie privée de Mr. Necker, 1804
  • Épîtres sur Naples
  • Corinne, ou l’Italie, 1807 is as much a travelogue as a fictional narrative. It discusses the problems of female artistic creativity in two radically different cultures, England and Italy.
  • Agar dans le désert
  • Geneviève de Brabant
  • La Sunamite
  • Le capitaine Kernadec ou sept années en un jour (comédie en deux actes et en prose)
  • La signora Fantastici
  • Le mannequin (comédie)
  • Sapho
  • De l’Allemagne, 1813, translated as Of Germany 1813.[92]
  • Réflexions sur le suicide, 1813
  • Morgan et trois nouvelles, 1813
  • De l’esprit des traductions
  • Considérations sur les principaux événements de la révolution française, depuis son origine jusques et compris le 8 juillet 1815, 1818 (posthumously) [93]
  • Dix Années d’Exil (1818), posthumously published in France by Mdm Necker de Saussure. In 1821 translated and published as Ten Years’ Exile. Memoirs of That Interesting Period of the Life of the Baroness De Stael-Holstein, Written by Herself, during the Years 1810, 1811, 1812, and 1813, and Now First Published from the Original Manuscript, by Her Son.[94]
  • Essais dramatiques, 1821
  • Oeuvres complètes 17 t., 1820-21
  • Oeuvres complètes de Madame la Baronne de Staël-Holstein [Complete works of Madame Baron de Staël-Holstein]. Paris: Firmin Didot frères. 1836. Volume 1  · Volume 2


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e Lord Byron and Germaine de Staël by Silvia Bordoni, The University of Nottingham 2005
  2. Jump up^ Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution …, Band 2 by Madame de Staël, p. 46
  3. Jump up^ Mémoires de Madame de Chastenay, 1771–1815
  4. Jump up^ Saintsbury 1911, p. 750.
  5. Jump up^ Casillo, R. (13 May 2006). “The Empire of Stereotypes: Germaine de Staël and the Idea of Italy”. Springer – via Google Books.
  6. Jump up^ Celebrities such as the Comte de BuffonJean-François MarmontelMelchior GrimmEdward Gibbon, the Abbé RaynalJean-François de la HarpeJacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-PierreDenis Diderot, and Jean d’Alembert were frequent visitors.
  7. Jump up to:a b c
  8. Jump up to:a b Stael and the French Revolution Introduction by Aurelian Craiutu
  9. Jump up^ Lydia Maria Child (1836) The biography of Madame de Stael, p. 6.[1]
  10. Jump up^ Simon Schama (1990) Citizens, p. 257
  11. Jump up^ Napoleon’s nemesis
  12. Jump up^ Historical & literary memoirs and anecdotes by Friedrich Melchior Grimm and Denis Diderot, H. Colburn, 1815, p. 353.
  13. Jump up^ Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, Mirabeau, Madame Roland, Madame De Stael, p. 311. by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  14. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 334
  15. Jump up^ Biancamaria Fontana (2016) Germaine de Staël: A Political Portrait, p. 30. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  16. Jump up^ B. Fontana, p. 33
  17. Jump up^ B. Fontana, p. 37, 41, 44
  18. Jump up^ Correspondance (1770-1793). Published by Évelyne Lever. Paris 2005, p. 660, 724
  19. Jump up^ B. Fontana, p. 49
  20. Jump up^ “Mémoires de Malouet”, p. 221
  21. Jump up^ B. Fontana, p. 61
  22. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 138
  23. Jump up^ Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël von J. Christopher Herold
  24. Jump up^ Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, Mirabeau, Madame Roland, Madame De Stael by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, p. 317-319
  25. Jump up^ S. Schama (1990) Citizens, p 624, 631
  26. Jump up^ A New Dictionary of the French Revolution by Richard Ballard, p. 341
  27. Jump up^ It was Tallien who announced the September Massacres and sent off the famous circular of 3 September to the French provinces, recommending them to take similar action.
  28. Jump up to:a b c Selected Correspondence by Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
  29. Jump up^ L. Moore (2007) Liberty. The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France, p. 15
  30. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 113
  31. Jump up^ The fall of Maximilien Robespierre opened the way back to Paris.
  32. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 125
  33. Jump up^ Olaf Müller: Madame de Staël und Weimar. Europäische Dimensionen einer Begegnung. In: Hellmut Th. Seemann (Hrsg.): Europa in Weimar. Visionen eines Kontinents. Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar 2008. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2008, p. 29.
  34. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 332
  35. Jump up^ B. Fontana, p. 178; L. Moore, p. 335
  36. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 345, 349
  37. Jump up^ Fontana, p.159
  38. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 159
  39. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 348
  40. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 350-352
  41. Jump up^ Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution …, p. 90, 95-96, Band 2 by Madame de Staël
  42. Jump up^ Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution …, Band 2 by Madame de Staël, p. 42
  43. Jump up to:a b c d e Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker, Baroness de Staël-Holstein (1766-1817) by Petri Liukkonen
  44. Jump up^ A. Goodden (2000) Delphine and Corinne, p. 18
  45. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 379
  46. Jump up^ Memoirs of Madame de Remusat, trans. Cashel Hoey and John Lillie, p. 407.
  47. Jump up^ Saintsbury 1911, p. 751.
  48. Jump up^ From the Introduction to Madame de Staël (1987) Delphine. Edition critique par S. Balayé & L. Omacini. Librairie Droz S.A. Génève
  49. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 204
  50. Jump up^ “Un journaliste contre-révolutionnaire, Jean-Gabriel Peltier (1760–1825) – Etudes Révolutionnaires”. 7 October 2011. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  51. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 263, note 47
  52. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 205
  53. Jump up^ Olaf Müller: Madame de Staël und Weimar. Europäische Dimensionen einer Begegnung. In: Hellmut Th. Seemann (Hrsg.): Europa in Weimar. Visionen eines Kontinents. Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar 2008. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2008, p. 292
  54. Jump up^ Madame de Staël von Klaus -Werner Haupt
  55. Jump up^ Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël by J. Christopher Herold
  56. Jump up^ Panizza, Letizia; Wood, Sharon. A History of Women’s Writing in Italy. p. 144.
  57. Jump up^ A. Goodden (2000), p. 61
  58. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 230
  59. Jump up^ Herold, J. Christopher. Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël. Grove Press, 2002. p. 290. ISBN 0802138373
  60. Jump up^ Schlegel and Madame de Staël have endeavored to reduce poetry to two systems, classical and romantic.
  61. Jump up^ Ferber, Michael (2010) Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-956891-8.
  62. Jump up^ Madame de Staël et Maurice O’Donnell (1805–1817), d’apres des letters inedites, by Jean Mistler, published by Calmann-Levy, Editeurs, 3 rue Auber, Paris, 1926.
  63. Jump up^ Olaf Müller: Madame de Staël und Weimar. Europäische Dimensionen einer Begegnung. In: Hellmut Th. Seemann (Hrsg.): Europa in Weimar. Visionen eines Kontinents. Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar 2008. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag 2008
  64. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 206
  65. Jump up^ Ten Years of Exile, pt. II, chap. i, 101–10
  66. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 206
  67. Jump up^ According to de Staël, it was Rostopchin who ordered to set his mansion on fire, which spread to the city with its 1,600 churches. Ten Years’ Exile, chapter 17
  68. Jump up^ Ten Years’ Exile, chapter 17
  69. Jump up^ Ten Years’ Exile, chapter 17
  70. Jump up^ Tolstoy, Leo (21 June 2017). The Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy. Musaicum Books. pp. 2583–. ISBN 978-80-7583-455-3. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  71. Jump up^ A. Zamoyski (2007) Rites of Peace. The fall of Napoleon & the Congress of Vienna, p. 105
  72. Jump up^ The Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. 184-185. Ed. by Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  73. Jump up^ Lord Byron and Germaine de Staël by Silvia Bordoni, p. 4
  74. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 227
  75. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 208
  76. Jump up to:a b Joanne Wilkes, Lord Byron and Madame de Staël: Born for Opposition. London: Ashgate, 1999. ISBN 1-84014699-0.
  77. Jump up^ The Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. 223-224. Ed. by Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  78. Jump up^ Longford, Elizabeth (1972) Wellington-Pillar of State, p.38. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London.
  79. Jump up^ Longford p.38
  80. Jump up^ The Man-Woman and the Idiot: Madame de Staël’s Public/Private Life Goodden, Angelica. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 2007, Vol. 43(1), pp.34-45
  81. Jump up^ Fontana, p. 234
  82. Jump up^ Angelica Goodden. Madame de Staël: the dangerous exile. Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 31?
  83. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 390
  84. Jump up^ Lucy Moore, p. 8
  85. Jump up^ Abramowitz, Michael (2 April 2007). “Rightist Indignation”. Washington Post. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  86. Jump up^ “Emerson – Roots – Madame DeStael”
  87. Jump up^ L. Moore, p. 350
  88. Jump up^ Sämtliche Schriften (Anm. 2), Bd. 3, S. 882 f.
  89. Jump up^ The Complete Miscellaneous Prose, p. 222. Ed. by Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  91. Jump up^ A Treatise on the influence of Passions on the Happiness of indivuals and of nations
  92. Jump up^ Of Germany
  93. Jump up^ Considérations sur les principaux événements de la révolution française
  94. Jump up^ Ten Years’ Exile by Madame de Staël


  • Biancamaria Fontana (2016) Germaine de Staël: A Political Portrait. Princeton University Press.
  • Angelica Goodden (2008) Madame de Staël : the dangerous exile. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199238095 ISBN 019923809X