Famous 18th Century French Writers

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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.
Vote for Your Favourite 18th Century French Writers
 1 
Voltaire
(French Historian and Philosopher Known for His Wit and His Pointed Social Critique)
Voltaire
28
Birthdate: November 21, 1694
Sun Sign: Scorpio
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
(Philosopher, Writer, & Composer)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
7
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
(French Writer Whose Perverse Sexual Preferences and Erotic Writings gave Rise to the Term 'Sadism')
Marquis de Sade
12
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 
Olympe de Gouges
(French Playwright, Political Activist, and Advocate for Women's Rights)
Olympe de Gouges
3
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.

 5 
Pierre Beaumarchais
(French Polymath and One of the Greatest Playwrights of 18th-Century France)
Pierre Beaumarchais
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1732
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 18, 1799

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was a French polymath who had worked as a watchmaker, playwright, musician, financier, and diplomat. He was also an inventor and revolutionary. He was much respected in French society and held influence in the court of King Louis XV. He supported American independence and actively participated in the early stages of the 1789 French Revolution. 

 6 
Germaine de Staël
(Philosopher)
Germaine de Staël
4
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.

Marie-Antoine Carême
3
Birthdate: June 8, 1784
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 12, 1833
 8 
Robert Surcouf
(Privateer, Writer, Shipowner, Slave trader)
Robert Surcouf
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1773
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Malo
Died: July 8, 1827
 9 
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
(French President of the Conservative Senate (1799 -1800) and Political Writer)
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
3
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.

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: September 8, 1780
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
3
Birthdate: April 1, 1755
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Belley, France
Died: February 2, 1826
 12 
Madame Roland
(French Revolutionary, Salonnière and Writer)
Madame Roland
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1754
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 8, 1793

The wife of Jean-Marie Roland, Madame Roland was a leading French revolutionary and often hosted significant political meets at her salon. She often directed her husband’s political actions and was responsible for creating a rift between the Jacobin and Girondin factions. She was later arrested and guillotined.

 13 
Baron d'Holbach
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1723
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edesheim, Germany
Died: January 21, 1789
 14 
François-Noël Babeuf
(Journalist, Writer, Archivist, Politician)
François-Noël Babeuf
3
Birthdate: November 23, 1760
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Quentin
Died: May 27, 1797
 15 
François Fénelon
(Catholic Archbishop and the Author of 'The Adventures of Telemachus')
François Fénelon
3
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.

 16 
Jeanne Guyon
(Mystic)
Jeanne Guyon
3
Birthdate: April 13, 1648
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montargis, France
Died: June 9, 1717
 17 
George Psalmanazar
3
Birthdate: 1679 AD
Birthplace: South France
Died: May 3, 1763
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur
3
Birthdate: December 31, 1735
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Caen, France
Died: November 12, 1813
 19 
François Guizot
(Politician, Diplomat, Historian, Translator, Writer, Literary critic, Carpenter)
François Guizot
3
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. 

 20 
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
(Former Writer best known for writing the epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) (1782))
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1741
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amiens, France
Died: September 5, 1803
Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve
2
Birthdate: November 28, 1685
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: France
Died: December 29, 1755
 22 
André Chénier
2
Birthdate: October 30, 1762
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Constantinople
Died: July 25, 1794
 23 
André de Chénier
2
Birthdate: October 30, 1762
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey
Died: July 25, 1794
 24 
Pierre de Marivaux
2
Birthdate: February 4, 1688
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 12, 1763
 25 
Antoine Destutt de Tracy
2
Birthdate: July 20, 1754
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 9, 1836
 26 
Claude Adrien Helvétius
(Philosopher, Writer, French moralists)
Claude Adrien Helvétius
2
Birthdate: January 26, 1715
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 26, 1771
 27 
Madeleine de Scudéry
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1607
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Le Havre, France
Died: June 2, 1701
Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle
2
Birthdate: February 11, 1657
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: January 9, 1757
 29 
Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois
(French Actor, Dramatist, Essayist, and Revolutionary.)
Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois
2
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.

 30 
Marquis de Custine
2
Birthdate: March 18, 1790
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Niderviller, France
Died: September 25, 1857
 31 
Joseph Joubert
(Philosopher, Essayist, Writer)
Joseph Joubert
2
Birthdate: May 7, 1754
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montignac
Died: May 4, 1824
 32 
Jacques Mallet du Pan
2
Birthdate: November 5, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Céligny, Switzerland
Died: May 10, 1800
 33 
Nicolas Chamfort
2
Birthdate: April 6, 1741
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Died: April 13, 1794
 34 
Nicolas-Edme Restif
2
Birthdate: November 23, 1734
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacy, France
Died: February 3, 1806
René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur
2
Birthdate: February 28, 1683
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rochelle, La, France
Died: October 17, 1757
 36 
Alain-René Lesage
2
Birthdate: May 6, 1668
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sarzeau, France
Died: November 17, 1747
Pierre-Jean de Béranger
2
Birthdate: August 19, 1780
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 16, 1857
 38 
Eugène Scribe
(French dramatist)
Eugène Scribe
2
Birthdate: December 24, 1791
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 20, 1861
Antoine Court de Gébelin
2
Birthdate: 1719 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 10, 1784
 40 
Bernard de Montfaucon
2
Birthdate: January 13, 1655
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Soulage, France
Died: December 21, 1741
 41 
Vivant Denon
(Artist)
Vivant Denon
2
Birthdate: January 4, 1747
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Died: April 27, 1825
Louis-Sébastien Mercier
2
Birthdate: June 6, 1740
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 25, 1814
Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve
2
Birthdate: January 3, 1756
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chartres, France
Died: June 18, 1794
Guillaume Thomas François Raynal
2
Birthdate: April 12, 1713
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lapanouse, France
Died: March 6, 1796
 45 
Fabre d'Églantine
1
Birthdate: July 28, 1750
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Carcassonne, France
Died: April 5, 1794
 46 
André Michaux
(Botanist)
André Michaux
1
Birthdate: March 8, 1746
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Satory, Versailles, France
Died: November 13, 1802
Stéphanie Félicité, comtesse de Genlis
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1746
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Issy-l'Évêque, Saône-et-Loire
Died: December 31, 1830
Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre
1
Birthdate: January 19, 1737
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Le Havre, France
Died: January 21, 1814
Jean Francois de Saint-Lambert
1
Birthdate: December 26, 1716
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nancy, France
Died: February 9, 1803
 50 
Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin
1
Birthdate: January 18, 1743
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Amboise, France
Died: October 14, 1803