Skip to Main Content

France: Women in the Revolution

Sophie de Condorcet

Sophie de Condorcet, artist. Self-portrait. From "Antoine Guillois, La marquise de Condorcet: sa famille, son salon, ses amis, 1764-1822‬"‪ (Paris: ‪P. Ollendorff, 1897‬‬).

Sophie Marie Louise de Grouchy was born in Meulan (Île-de-France) on April 8, 1764 and died on September 8, 1822 in Paris. She was known as Sophie de Condorcet after her marriage to the well-respected mathematician, philosopher and woman's rights advocate, Nicolas de Condorcet. She was an intellectual and an advocate for the downtrodden throughout her life. She worked with her husband to argue for full women's suffrage in a July 1790 document entitled Sur l'admission des femmes audroit de cité (On the Admission of Women to Civil Rights). She was a true feminist of the time. She was also a professional translator and scholar, and translated the writings of Adam Smith and Thomas Paine. As one of the most popular salonnières she used her position as hostess as a way to share her own republican ideas with the men who frequented her salon. In 1791 she started a journal called Le Républicain along with her husband, Thomas Paine, and Girondin acquaintances. The journal was short lived but illustrates her continued dedication to the spread of republican ideas. She also published her own work, Letters on Sympathy. This was her critical engagement with, and response to, Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments. She offers her original thoughts on the development of a new social order and on the role of emotions, morality and justice in the making of this new improved society. Unjustly overshadowed by her husband (despite his attempts to the contrary), she is now becoming increasingly known as a philosopher in her own right, as well as an industrious and talented woman. One of the few to escape The Terror, she was also an accomplished painter (having learned from her famous friend Élisabeth Virgée Le Brun who won the patronage of Marie Antoinette at one point in her life). Sophie, nicknamed Grouchette by her close friends, was one of the most intellectually curious women of her day; outliving the men in her life and supporting both herself and her daughter despite the tumultuous events of the day.

For an overview of French women in history and the evolution of the French feminist movement, please see the research guide Feminism & French Women in History.

You can identify additional material by searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog using the following headings:

Condorcet, Marie-Louise-Sophie de Grouchy, marquise de, 1764-1822. (Name Heading; returns works by Sophie de Condorcet)

Condorcet, Marie-Louise-Sophie de Grouchy, marquise de, 1764-1822. (Subject Heading; returns works about Sophie de Condorcet)

Selected Resources

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

External Website