Louise Dupin: Bluestocking’s 18th Century Predecessor

Bluestocking Oxford

By Sophie Dowle.

Long before Bluestocking Journal was publishing articles on great women, Louise Marie-Madeleine Dupin (1706-99), a French saloniste, compiled and began writing a book on the history of women: Ouvrage sur les femmes. Unfortunately, this work was never fully completed, and the many boxes of notes, drafts and copies that Madame Dupin had worked on were shelved, unpublished. Although this seminal work did not see the light of day, Madame Dupin and her feminist mission deserve to be remembered.

Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine Dupin was born in Paris in 1706. In 1722 she married Claude Dupin, whose success as a tax farmer and government official enabled him to buy the château of Chenonceau in 1733. At Chenonceau Madame Dupin cultivated a salon of artists and writers. Notable thinkers who frequented her salon included Voltaire (who nicknamed her “the goddess of beauty and music”), Fontenelle, Montesquieu, L’abbé de…

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