When Olympe first came to Paris, she was able to mix with the aristocracy through her half brother, Pompignan's heir. But her big break as an author was an introduction, through her friends Louis Sebastien Mercier and Michel de Cubière, to the salons of Fanny Beauharnais and Madame de Montesson. Cubiere was a poet, a socialite and a flirt, whose official mistress was Fanny de Beauharnais. During the revolution he used his charms to make a place for himself in the ever changing government, and it is to him that Olympe attempted to write when she was first taken. Cubière survived the revolution. Mercier, poet, novelist, playwright and philosopher, also survived, despite being put under arrest in 1794 for having protested the sentencing of the Girondins.
Madame de Montesson was a talented widow, who became a patron of playwrights welcoming in particular those, like Olympe, who had experienced difficulties with the Comédie Francaise. She set up a private theatre in her Paris home in the Chaussée d’Antin, close to Mirabeau’s home, as well as a number of other famous literary salons of the 18th century such as that of Juliette Recamier or Louise d’Epinay. Her theatrical manager was Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier de Saint George, a composer and soldier born of a rich planter and his Guadeloupean slave, Nanon. Saint-George became one of Madame de Montesson’s protegés after his first Opera, Ernestine with a libretto by Choderlos de Laclos, failed miserably at the Comédie Italienne. In 1792 Saint-George was put in charge of a legion of soldiers who were also men of colour and fought under the celebrated General Dumouriez.
This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.