Famous 18th Century French Writers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century French Writers, including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Olympe de Gouges, Marquis de Sade and Honoré de Balzac.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Voltaire

Voltaire
26
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 20, 1694
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 30, 1778
18th-century historian, author, philosopher, and advocate of freedom of speech Voltaire was a leading figure of the French Age of Enlightenment. He often ran into trouble for his criticism of the French nobility and the Roman Catholic Church. He once went to Britain on voluntary exile, fearing imprisonment in France.

 2 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
7
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, & Composer
Birthdate: June 28, 1712
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: July 2, 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, composer, and writer. His political philosophy influenced aspects of the French Revolution. He also helped develop modern economic, political, and educational thought. His writing inspired a transformation in French drama and poetry. His works also influenced such writers around the world as Tolstoy. His works as a composer were acknowledged by composers like Mozart.

 3 Marquis de Sade

Marquis de Sade
10
Famous As: Novelist, Philosopher
Birthdate: June 2, 1740
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 2, 1814
Marquis de Sade is remembered for his erotic books such as The 120 Days of Sodom. He was known for his peculiar way of deriving sexual pleasure by torturing his victims, now known as “sadism.” He was jailed for several years for sexual abuse against men, women, and children. 
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 4 Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat
5
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boudry, Switzerland
Died: July 13, 1793

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as L'Ami du people. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a Girondin supporter made him a Jacobin martyr.

 5 Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
3
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: January 24, 1732
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 18, 1799

 6 Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: May 7, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montauban, France
Died: November 3, 1793

Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.

 7 Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
3
Famous As: Politician, Writer
Birthdate: August 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Decize
Died: July 28, 1794
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 8 Marie-Antoine Carême

Marie-Antoine Carême
3
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: June 8, 1784
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 12, 1833

 9 Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau

Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
3
Famous As: Journalist, Politician, Diplomat, Writer, Economist
Birthdate: March 9, 1749
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Bignon-Mirabeau
Died: April 2, 1791

Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau was the son of renowned economist Victor Riqueti. A bout of small pox disfigured his face permanently but that didn’t stop him from rising as a leader of the French Revolution. However, posthumously, he was proved to be a royalist.

 10 Robert Surcouf

Robert Surcouf
3
Famous As: Privateer, Writer, Shipowner, Slave trader
Birthdate: December 12, 1773
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Malo
Died: July 8, 1827

 11 Germaine de Staël

Germaine de Staël
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 22, 1766
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 14, 1817

Germaine de Staël was a French political theorist and woman of letters. She is best remembered for her collaboration with the popular  Swiss-French political thinker Benjamin Constant. Germaine, who was way ahead of her time, is widely regarded as a precursor of feminism.

 12 Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 3, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fréjus, France
Died: June 20, 1836

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, also known as the Abbé Sieyès, was a French Roman Catholic Abbé, clergyman, and political writer. He was a chief political theorist of the French Revolution and held offices in the French Consulate government. He is credited to have coined the term sociologie in an unpublished manuscript. He led a rather uninvolved social life.

 13 Jean-Baptiste Say

Jean-Baptiste Say
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: January 5, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: November 15, 1832

French economist Jean-Baptiste Say supported free trade and competition. Scholars of economics know him for his law of markets, which states that supply creates its own demand. He had experimented with many jobs, from being a journalist to owning a cotton mill, and eventually became an economics professor.

 14 Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 26, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: September 8, 1780

 15 Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 1, 1755
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Belley, France
Died: February 2, 1826

 16 Benjamin Constant

Benjamin Constant
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: December 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: December 8, 1830

 17 Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: December 14, 1739
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 7, 1817

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was a French-American writer and economist. An ambitious man, he served as French inspector general of commerce under Louis XVI. He moved to America during the French Revolution and was later elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. His son Éleuthère Irénée du Pont founded E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. 

 18 Jules Michelet

Jules Michelet
3
Famous As: Historian, Archivist, Writer, Diarist, Professor, Translator
Birthdate: August 21, 1798
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 9, 1874

Jules Michelet was a French author and historian best remembered for his work on the history and culture of France. Jules Michelet is credited with defining the term renaissance, which was originally used by Italian historian and painter Giorgio Vasari in 1550. The term is currently used to identify the period that followed the Middle Ages in Europe's cultural history.

 19 Baron d'Holbach

Baron d'Holbach
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 8, 1723
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edesheim, Germany
Died: January 21, 1789

 20 François-Noël Babeuf

François-Noël Babeuf
3
Famous As: Journalist, Writer, Archivist, Politician
Birthdate: November 23, 1760
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Quentin
Died: May 27, 1797

 21 Jacques Pierre Brissot

Jacques Pierre Brissot
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 15, 1754
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chartres, Orléanais, France
Died: October 31, 1793

Jacques Pierre Brissot was a French journalist and publisher. He was one of the most important members of the Girondins, who played a prominent role during the French Revolution. Brissot is also credited with founding the Society of the Friends of the Blacks, an abolitionist society, which aimed at abolishing the institution of slavery.

 22 François Fénelon

François Fénelon
3
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: August 6, 1651
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sainte-Mondane, France
Died: January 7, 1715

François Fénelon was a French writer, poet, theologian, and Catholic archbishop. He is best remembered for his book The Adventures of Telemachus, which was published in 1699. François Fénelon also served as a tutor of Louis, Duke of Burgundy, guiding the character formation of Louis, Grand Dauphin's eldest son.

 23 Jeanne Guyon

Jeanne Guyon
3
Famous As: Mystic
Birthdate: April 13, 1648
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montargis, France
Died: June 9, 1717

 24 J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 31, 1735
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Caen, France
Died: November 12, 1813

 25 George Psalmanazar

George Psalmanazar
3
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: 1679 AD
Birthplace: South France
Died: May 3, 1763

 26 Claude Adrien Helvétius

Claude Adrien Helvétius
2
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, French moralists
Birthdate: January 26, 1715
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 26, 1771

 27 François Guizot

François Guizot
3
Famous As: Politician, Diplomat, Historian, Translator, Writer, Literary critic, Carpenter
Birthdate: October 4, 1787
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nîmes
Died: September 12, 1874

François Guizot was a French historian and statesman. He was a key figure in French politics in the years leading to the Revolution of 1848. After serving under the "citizen king" Louis Philippe in several roles, he was made the Prime Minister of France in 1847. He played a critical role in expanding public education. 

 28 Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
3
Famous As: Writer, Inventor, Novelist, Officer
Birthdate: October 18, 1741
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amiens
Died: September 5, 1803

 29 André Chénier

André Chénier
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 30, 1762
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Constantinople
Died: July 25, 1794

 30 Pierre Louis Maupertuis

Pierre Louis Maupertuis
2
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 28, 1698
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 27, 1759

Pierre Louis Maupertuis was a French mathematician and man of letters. He is credited with having invented the principle of least action; his version is known as Maupertuis's principle. He was also a philosopher and his work in natural history touched upon a range of topics. He was the first President of the Prussian Academy of Science. 

 31 André de Chénier

André de Chénier
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 30, 1762
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey
Died: July 25, 1794

 32 Pierre de Marivaux

Pierre de Marivaux
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 4, 1688
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 12, 1763

 33 Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve

Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 28, 1685
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: France
Died: December 29, 1755

 34 Antoine Destutt de Tracy

Antoine Destutt de Tracy
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 20, 1754
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 9, 1836

 35 Madeleine de Scudéry

Madeleine de Scudéry
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 15, 1607
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Le Havre, France
Died: June 2, 1701

 36 Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle

Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 11, 1657
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: January 9, 1757

 37 Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois

Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 19, 1749
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 8, 1796

Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois was a French actor, essayist, dramatist, and revolutionary. He played an important role during the Reign of Terror, serving as one of the most important members of the Committee of Public Safety. Although he is credited with saving Madame Tussaud from the Guillotine, Collot d'Herbois oversaw the execution of over 2,000 people in Lyon.

 38 Joseph Joubert

Joseph Joubert
2
Famous As: Philosopher, Essayist, Writer
Birthdate: May 7, 1754
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montignac
Died: May 4, 1824

 39 Nicolas-Edme Restif

Nicolas-Edme Restif
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 23, 1734
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacy, France
Died: February 3, 1806

 40 Nicolas Chamfort

Nicolas Chamfort
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 6, 1741
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Died: April 13, 1794

 41 Marquis de Custine

Marquis de Custine
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 18, 1790
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Niderviller, France
Died: September 25, 1857

 42 René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur

René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur
2
Famous As: Entomologist
Birthdate: February 28, 1683
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rochelle, La, France
Died: October 17, 1757

 43 Jacques Mallet du Pan

Jacques Mallet du Pan
2
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: November 5, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Céligny, Switzerland
Died: May 10, 1800

 44 Alain-René Lesage

Alain-René Lesage
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 6, 1668
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sarzeau, France
Died: November 17, 1747

 45 Charles Nodier

Charles Nodier
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 29, 1780
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: January 27, 1844

French author Charles Nodier inspired the Romantic writers of his time with his focus on gothic themes. As the director of the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, he led a group of young writers such as Victor Hugo and Alfred de Musset. His works include The Vampire Lord Ruthwen and The Book Collector.

 46 Eugène Scribe

Eugène Scribe
2
Famous As: French dramatist
Birthdate: December 24, 1791
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 20, 1861

 47 Pierre-Jean de Béranger

Pierre-Jean de Béranger
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 19, 1780
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 16, 1857

 48 Antoine Court de Gébelin

Antoine Court de Gébelin
2
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: 1719 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 10, 1784

 49 Louis-Sébastien Mercier

Louis-Sébastien Mercier
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 6, 1740
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 25, 1814

 50 Guillaume Thomas François Raynal

Guillaume Thomas François Raynal
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 12, 1713
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lapanouse, France
Died: March 6, 1796