Madame de Staël
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (French: [an lwiz ʒɛʁmɛn də stal ɔlstajn]; née Necker; 22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël (/də ˈstɑːl/ də STAHL, French: [madam də stal]), was a woman of letters and political theorist of Genevan origin who in her lifetime witnessed (1789–1815) at first-hand the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era up to the French Restoration. She was present at the Estates General of 1789 and at the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Her intellectual collaboration with Benjamin Constant between 1794 and 1810 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time. She discovered sooner than others the tyrannical character and designs of Napoleon. For many years she lived as an exile – firstly during the Reign of Terror and later due to personal persecution by Napoleon.
In exile she became the fulcrum of the Coppet group with her unrivalled network of contacts across Europe. 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”. Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist, and often dressed in daring outfits, she stimulated the political and intellectual life of her times. Her works, whether novels, travel literature or polemics, which emphasised individuality and passion, made a lasting mark on European thought. De Staël spread the notion of Romanticism widely by its repeated use.