Olympe de Gouges was born to working class parents but took her place amidst the French intellectuals who advocated the French Revolution.
She was a popular playwright and she strongly advocated the rights of French women. When the Revolution was in full swing that Robespierre initiated the Reign of Terror, Olympe was one of the few public figures to denounced him for this action. This act of moral courage was to cost her dearly. She, herself, was guillotined.
1745 Olympe de Gouges, was born in Montablm, France to working class parents. She was named Marie de Gouzes, which often was written phonetically as "de Gouges." Her mother was a washerwoman and her father a butcher. Little is known of her early years.
1765 At the age of 20 she married Louis Aubry, a man of some wealth who was a good bit older that she was. They had one child, a son named Pierre. Then early in the marriage she was widowed.
1778 She is in Paris and is using the name Olympe de Gouges. Despite having low skills in the language of the aristocracy, she supports herself as a playwright. She is also an ardent champion of women and attempts to get women to organize so as to improve their lot in French society.
1791 She joins the Cercle Social which meets at the home of Sophie de Condorcet, who was the daughter of the intellectual Marie Gilberte Henriette Freteau and Francoise Jacques. By 1791 Sophie had married Nicolas de Condorcet, philosopher and mathematician and she became a prominent saloniste who was indifferent to class origins of her acquaintances. After the publication of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen Olympe de Gouges wrote Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen. After the appearance of Rousseau's Social Contract, she immediately wrote Social Contract a work in which she proposed gender equality in marriage. She supported the French Revolution and wrote more than 30 political pamphlets to further its cause. (See: works ) She spoke out against the execution of the King and his family and denounced Robespierre and Marat for the Reign of Terror.
1793 She was guillotined as "a reactionary" after the publication of her Les trois umes, or le salut de la Patrie, par un voyageur aerien. She is considered a martyr to ideas. Donald Nicholson-Smith has penned an essay about her, Olympe de gouges, a Daughter of Quercy on her Way to the Pantheon
Olympe de Gouges was a prolific writer and I am not sure if I have all her works in the following list.
1774 L'Esclavage des Negres (The Enslavement of Blacks), a play.
1784 Memory of Mrs. Valmont - a novel;
1786 The Generous Man - a play
1787 The Corrected Philosopher or the Supposed Cuckold - a play;
1788 Benevolence, or the Good Mother;
1789 The Prince Philosophizes - a novel;
1790 Answer to the American Champion, or Colonist Very Easy to Know;
Letter to French Literary Men;
Departure of Mr. Necker and of Mrs. de Gouges;
Project on the formation of a Popular Court and Supreme Out of a Criminal Matter;
Need for the Divorce;
The Convent or The Forced Wishers - a play 1790, 1792
1791 Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen.
1792 France Saved, or, the Dethroned Tyrant;
1793 Unconventional Opinion about a True Republican Union, Courage, Monitoring, and the Republic is Saved;
Note: her Trial can be found at Trial of Olympe de Gouges -
This page was last updated 12/14/14.