Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Marie d'Agoult, a Writer and an Independent Woman

Marie d'Agoult (died 5 March 1876)

Marie d'Agoult in an 1843 painting
by Henri Lehmann

Perhaps best known--at least in popular culture--as the woman who lived with composer Franz Liszt, Marie d'Agoult, born Marie Catherine Sophie de Flavigny in 1805, was also an artist in her own right. Using the pen name "Daniel Stern," she published several works of fiction, including the autobiographical novel Nélida (believed to be a thinly disguised account of her relationship with Liszt), art criticism, and the highly successful play, Jeanne d'Arc (1857).

Her most important and influential work, however, was in the field of political and historical writing, which includes Lettres républicaines (1848), Esquisses morales et politiques (1849), Histoire de la Révolution de 1848 (3 vols., 1850-1853), Trois journées de la vie de Marie Stuart (1856), Florence et Turin (1862), and Histoire des commencements de la République aux Pays-Bas (1872). Her memoir, Mes souvenirs, was published posthumously.

There are various popular films about Agoult's relationship with Liszt, but rather than fiction, there are two excellent biographies: Phyllis Stock-Morton's The Life of Marie d'Agoult, Alias Daniel Stern and Richard Bolster's Marie d’Agoult: The Rebel Countess