Anne Louise Germaine Necker Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
0111206096-Stael.jpg (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Madame de Staël (stahl) was born Anne Louise Germaine Necker in Paris on April 22, 1766, and was the only child of Jacques Necker and the former Suzanne Cuchod from Geneva. A wealthy Swiss banker who became the minister of finance to Louis XVI, Jacques Necker was idolized by his daughter. Ostensibly because the king had dismissed Necker from his ministry, the French people stormed the Bastille in 1789, carrying its seven prisoners away in triumph; as a result, the king was forced to ask Necker to return. Necker returned but was ineffective and resigned in September of 1790; he retired to Coppet, leaving two million francs of his own in the state treasury. One trait that Germaine shared with her indulgent father was her ability to preserve the Necker fortune and to pass it on, undiminished, to her children.{$S[A]De Staël, Madame[DeStaël, Madame];Staël, Madame de}{$S[A]Necker, Anne Louise Germaine;Staël, Madame de}

She received an Enlightenment education. Taught by her Calvinist mother until the age of thirteen, she was subjected to a rigorous course of study that included Latin and English. The writings of Baron de Montesquieu, the Marquis de Condorcet, Voltaire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were major and early influences on her. More important, before she could walk, she became part of her mother’s salon, which was frequented by the philosophes, including Denis Diderot, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, and the Comte de Buffon. It was clear to the young girl that public attention from men for brilliant conversation was not only to be expected but was her birthright as well.

Her arranged marriage to Eric...

(The entire section is 668 words.)