Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges, a short Biography

(May 7, 1748 to November 3, 1798)

Early Life

Olympe de Gouges was born Marie Gouze in Montauban, France on my 7, 1798. Marie’s mother was Anne-Olympe Mouisset, whose family were drapers, and her father was Pierre Gouze, a butcher. Marie would later claim that her biological father was actually Jean-Jacques Lefranc, the marquis de Pompignan, and president of the financial court of Languedoc and a well-known poet and playwright. There is some evidence of this being true, Although Gouges may have said this to elevate her social status.

Olympe de Gouges (1748–1793), the author of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen in 1791

Little is known about Olympe de Gouges’ youth; however, she could read and write by the time she got married. She married Louis-Yves Aubry at a young age in 1765, and bore one son, Pierre Aubry in 1766. Tragically, her husband perished that same year in the Great Flood in Montauban. After this loss Marie Gouze changed her name to Olympe de Gouges and vowed to never marry again. In 1768 she took up a friendship with a Lyon businessman, Jacques Biétrix de Rozières who moved her to Paris.


During the 1770’s Gouges became a figure within the Libertine and literary movements in Paris. By the 1780s she had begun writing novellas and became politicly active. She wrote and spoke about social justice issues such as abolition of slavery, improved care for maternity hospitals, and improved rights for orphans, unwed mothers, and took up the cause of equal rights for women. In 1791 Gouges wrote the “Declaration of the Rights of Women”, a reply to the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen that was read before the National Assembly in 1789. In her declaration, Gouges asserted that woman were equal in societies with men and were entitled to the same rights of citizenship that men were.

Her Death

Gouge believed that a Constitutional Monarchy was the best governing system for France. She maintained this view even after a Republic was declared. She disliked the Jacobite’s, and when they took full control of France in 1793, Gouge repeated attacked the “Terror”. Even knowing the risk she continued her vocal opposition to the new government. She soon gained a following and became a threat. Gouge was finally arrested and sent to the guillotine on November 3, 1798. Following her death, she would be remembered as a minor playwright and little attention was paid to her “Declaration of the Rights of Women” for 200 years. With the rebirth of the feminist movement in France during the 1970s, the writings of Olympe de Gouges would again rally activists.



Britannica Academic, s.v. “Olympe de Gouges,” accessed August 6, 2021, https://academic-eb-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/levels/collegiate/article/Olympe-de-Gouges/389233.

Cokely, Carrie L. “Declaration of the Rights of Women.” In Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, edited by Jodi O’Brien, 189-190. Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2009. Gale eBooks (accessed August 6, 2021). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3073900115/GVRL?u=vic_liberty&sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=e8f0de4e.

HESSE, CARLA. “Gouges, Olympe de.” In Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter, 993-996. Vol. 2. Detroit, MI: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. Gale eBooks (accessed August 6, 2021). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3446900357/GVRL?u=vic_liberty&sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=d01c3ff1.




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