- Gournay, Marie de
- (1565-1645)French author and feminist, best known as the protégée of Michel de Montaigne, who first met her in 1588 and was so impressed with her intelligence and learning that he regarded her as almost an adoptive daughter. Born into a noble but poor family, she resisted pressure from her mother to abandon her intellectual ambitions and marry. Largely self-taught, Marie mastered Latin language and literature and later studied Greek. Her reading of Montaigne's Essays was her great source of intellectual awakening. Yet Montaigne's endorsement left her with mixed feelings. She welcomed his interest but nevertheless also felt overshadowed by his fame. One of her principal works, the tragic romance Le proumenoir de Monsieur de Montaigne / The Promenade of Monsieur Montaigne (1594), was dedicated to his memory but dealt with the theme of betrayal and male treachery and was written in a genre that he disapproved. In 1595 she published an influential edition of his Essays, including a preface that described her own struggle against misogyny. She created an influential literary salon in Paris and continued writing, including explicitly feminist essays such as her work on the equality of men and women (1621).
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.