Sophie de Condorcet


Sophie de Condorcet Famous memorial

Meulan, Departement des Yvelines, Île-de-France, France
Death 8 Sep 1822 (aged 58)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Plot Division 10
Memorial ID 7741 View Source

Author, French Socialite. Madame de Condorcet is remembered for being an eighteenth century author, along with being a translator of English literature into French. After her husband's death, she published in 1798 “Lettres sur la sympathie” or “Letters on Sympathy.” At the Hôtel des Monnaies in Paris, she entertained in her salon many of the world's most well-known politicians, British noblemen, and writers, including female authors supporting women's rights. She rallied French women to support women's rights. As a writer, she was highly educated, spoke fluent English, Italian, as well as French, and translated the writings in French of American patriot, Thomas Paine and Scottish moral philosopher, Adam Smith's “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” in 1759. She wrote her own introduction to Smith's translation explaining any disagreement she had with his writings. Her salon became the "center of an Enlightened Europe." She was a gifted pastel portrait artist. Born Marie Louise Sophie de Grouchy, she used the name “Sophie,” stepping into French society as the daughter of Francoise Jacques de Grouchy, 1st Marquis de Grouchy, a page to King Louis XV.In 1786 she married the mathematician and Enlightenment philosopher Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, the Marquis de Condocret, who was 20 years her senior. She and her husband shared deep convictions and were outspoken on human rights for all; besides women's right, they wanted slavery abolished. The couple had one child, Alexandrine Louise Sophie de Caritat de Condorcet, who married exiled Irish patriot, Arthur O'Conner. Her brother was Marshall Emmanuel Marquis de Grouchy. Her brother and O'Connor were officers in Napoleon's Irish Army together. At the outbreak of the French Revolution, her husband became very involved with politics being elected to represent Paris in the Legislative Assembly, of which he became secretary. Being a moderate, he drafted a new French constitution, which was rejected for the Jacobin's' more aggressive version. In 1793 her husband voted not to behead King Louis XVI, and afterward, independently voicing his disagreement with the act, her husband went against Maximilien de Robespierre, leader of the Jacobin government. On October 3, 1793, a warrant was issued for her husband's arrest. Fearing for his life, her husband left her as hundreds of aristocrats were being arrested and beheaded with the guillotine, thus being an outlaw, he went into hiding. Although he achieved some of his best writing according to critics while in hiding, her husband had a mild stroke during this stressful time. She dearly loved her husband, never the less, she had to file a divorce as his property would have been easily been seized by the Jacbin government; a divorce would allow her and their daughter to keep their home. As the months passed, she knew her husband's location would be eventually found, and dread what would happen. After being hidden for eight months her husband was captured on the evening of March 27, 1794, taken to Bourg-la-Reine and imprisoned. On the morning of the 29th of March, her husband was found dead in his cell. The cause of death was unknown; maybe he had another stroke, maybe he was poisoned or maybe suicide to escape being beheaded. For varying reasons, it would be four months before she knew of his death, making the divorce was not final before his death. In fear of the repercussions, she wrote and published articles pseudonomously and anonymously defending her husband's political stand and especially her stand on women's rights. She believed in divorce and clear rights for children born outside marriage and for their mothers. For political reasons and for an income as a widow, she published in 1798 a two-volume translation of Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments and A Dissertation on the Origins of Languages.” There is evidence that she wrote more pieces: In her husband's 1794 “Advice to his Daughter,” he refers to the “Letters on Sympathy” but also other texts that she was writing, yet these were never found after her death. In a 1792 letter she wrote to Etienne Dumont, a publishing colleague of her husband, asking him to proof read “Letters on Sympathy” as well as the beginning of her novel; the novel has never been found. After her husband's death, she purchased a lingerie shop but lived in poverty until 1799 when she was able to recover some of her property. At that time, she resumed her salon, while keeping her husband's political viewpoints alive and published many of her husband's works between 1801 and 1804. After her death, her daughter revised these publications as well as publishing others. During this ordeal, her name was smeared with newspaper articles with nude drawings of her because she promoted women's rights. Sophie de Condorcet survived it all: the French Revolution and the death of her husband, the Reign of Terror with the guillotine, the four-year Directory, Napoleon's era, and lastly, the restoration of monarchy with King Louis XVIII on the French throne. She and her husband denied traditional religions, thus she was buried without a religious ceremony.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 18 Dec 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 7741
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sophie de Condorcet (8 Apr 1764–8 Sep 1822), Find a Grave Memorial ID 7741, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find a Grave .