Celebrating a landmark edition: Francoise de Graffigny’s letters

The following is reproduced from the Voltaire Foundation (University of Oxford)  site with the permission of Pippa Faucheux.  It follows the completion of a 40-year project publish the critical edition of Mme de Graffigny’s correspondence which was completed in 2016.  WHN Admin.



Portrait de Mme de Graffigny par Pierre-Augustin Clavareau, Lunéville, Musée du château, inv.2011.2.1, cliché T. Franz: Conseil général de Meurthe-et-Moselle



Celebrating the completion of this landmark edition

Françoise de Graffigny (1695-1758), French novelist and playwright whose talent was celebrated all over Europe after the publication of her novel Lettres d’une Péruvienne (1747), and her play Cénie (1750), knew many leading figures of the time, including Voltaire. Her letters offer a unique insight into France’s intellectual, social, political and literary history, as well as the female condition in the eighteenth century.

The edition contains 2,518 mostly unpublished letters in 15 volumes, annotated by a team of specialists. Read our collection of excerpts: la correspondance en 30 petites histoires.

Editors’ project webpage (University of Toronto) with Cumulative index.


CBC radio interview with the editors

‘She was the world’s most famous writer at one time… but there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of her. Francoise de Graffigny was admired throughout Europe in the mid 18th century for her novel Lettres d’une Péruvienne and her drama Cénie.

‘But over two centuries later her name was pretty well forgotten. Then in 1975 a group of international scholars based at the University of Toronto came together to edit over 2500 letters written by Mme de Graffigny. Now, 40 years later, it’s finally been completed [and published by the Voltaire Foundation].’

Professor David Smith, who’s been an editor with the Graffigny project since its inception, and Professor Penny Arthur, an associate editor since 1981, talked about this monumental task in this CBC Radio One interview on the programme Fresh Air (24 April 2016).

University of Toronto news piece

Mme de Graffigny lives on as 40-year project draws to a close (4 August 2016):

‘Mme de Graffigny’s letters to François-Antoine Devaux, a lawyer with literary aspirations who was her closest friend and confidant until her death, are considered her “masterpiece”. […] she wrote candidly about disparate topics including a three-month stay with writer and philosopher Voltaire and his mistress, aspects of her health, and artistic rivalries. […] In the letters, her writing is spontaneous and unrehearsed, providing a magnificent example of everyday language during the period.’


Further information can be found at:

%d bloggers like this: