Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin
She was born in Paris. She married, on July 19 1713, Pierre Francois Geoffrin, a rich manufacturer and lieutenant-colonel of the National Guard, who died in 1750. It was not till Mme Geoffrin was nearly fifty that she became known as a power in Parisian society. She had learned much from Mme de Tencin, and about 1748 began to gather round her a literary and artistic circle. She held two dinners a week, on Monday for artists, and on Wednesday for her friends the Encyclopaedists and other men of letters. She received many foreigners of distinction, including David Hume and Horace Walpole.
Walpole spent much time in her society before he was finally attached to Mme du Deffand, and speaks of Mme Geoffrin in his letters as a model of common sense. She adopted the pose of an old woman earlier than necessary, and acted as mother and mentor to her guests, many of whom were indebted to her generosity for substantial help. Although her aim appears, to have been to have the Encyclopédie in conversation and action around her, she would reject those friends who incurred open disgrace. Jean-François Marmontel lost her favour after the official censure of Bélisaire . Her advanced views did not prevent her from observing the forms of religion.
A devoted Parisian, Mme Geoffrin rarely left the city. Her journey to Poland in 1766 to visit the king, Stanislas Poniatowski, whom she had known in his early days in Paris, was a remarkable event. Her experiences induced a sensible gratitude that she had been born "Française" and "particulière." In her last illness her daughter, Thérèse, marquise de la Ferté Imbault, excluded her mother's old friends so that she might die as a good Christian, a proceeding wittily described by the old lady: "My daughter is like Godfrey de Bouillon, she wished to defend my tomb from the infidels."
See Correspondence inédite du roi Stanislas Auguste Poniatowski et de Madame Geoffrin, edited by the comte de Mous (1875); P de Ségur, Le Royaume de la rue Saint-Honoré, Madame Geoffrin et sa fille (1897); A Tornezy, Un Bureau d'esprit au XVIII' siècle: le salon de Madame Geoffrin (1895); and Janet Aldis, Madame Geoffrin, her Salon and her Times, 1750-1777 (1905).
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