After researching several ‘grands hommes’ for Better Know a Frenchman, my series about the people behind the names on streets signs and buildings all across France, I found out about FemiCité, a feminist movement to put more WOMEN’S names in those places of honor. In solidarity, I have decided to begin highlighting amazing French Women along with the Frenchmen I have already been profiling.
Who do you think deserves recognition?! Leave a comment!
Lived: 1804- 1876
Spotted: rue George Sand is in Paris’ 16th arrondissement and a handful of cities across France including Tours, Le Havre, and Voirons. A quick search turned up about three or four lycées named for her in all of France.
Important Contributions: George Sand is the pseudonym for the controversial writer, essayist, and “romantic rebel” Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin who wrote over 80 novels, dozens of plays, and thousands of letters during her lifetime. Her first independent novel, Indiana (1832), is about a woman in a passionless marriage, and broadly addresses themes such as female desire, social constraints concerning women in marriage, and women’s equality in France, topics that would stay important to Sand throughout her life. She wrote many essays and was quite outspoken in her socialist politics.
Fun Fact: Sand was smashing the patriarchy way back in the mid-19th century, when she often opted to dress in men’s clothing and scandalously smoked tobacco in public (the horror!). She is perhaps most infamous for several lengthy and very public love affairs with composer Frédéric Chopin, writer Alfred de Musset, and even speculation about a rumored lesbian affair with actress Marie Dorval.
Quoted: “I ask the support of no one, neither to kill someone for me, gather a bouquet, correct a proof, nor to go with me to the theater. I go there on my own, as a man, by choice; and when I want flowers, I go on foot, by myself, to the Alps.”