George Sand

Portrait of George Sand

George Sand (pseudonym of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin de Francueil) was a French novelist, memoirist and journalist. She was born in Paris, France on 1st July 1804 and died in Nohant-Vic, France on 8th June 1876 aged 71.

Major Works

Indiana” (1831)
Lélia” (1833)
Un Hiver à Majorque” (1841)
“La Mare au Diable” (1846) 
“François le Champi” (1848) 
“La Petite Fadette” (1849) 

Biography Timeline

George Sand was born as Armandine Aurore Lucille Dupin on 1st July 1804 in Meslay Street, Paris, France. Her father was Maurice Dupin de Francueil, a soldier, who was related to ancient French Kings and the Marshal of France, Maurice de Saxe. Her mother, Sophie-Victoire Delaborde was from a humble family who were master birders.

1808: Her father dies and Aurore, her mother, and her grandmother move from Paris to Nohant, France where her grandmother, Marie-Aurore de Saxe, is mainly responsible for raising her. 

1818: At the age of fourteen she is sent to the convent of the Dames Augustines Anglaises in Paris but she is a rebel and returns to her Grandmother. Here she studies nature and philosophy and reads widely. She also helps the local working people by practicing medicine on them. Her tutor encourages her to wear men’s clothing whilst out riding which she also adopts later in life. A law of 1800 required all women to have a licence to wear men’s clothing but many ignored it.

1821: Her grandmother dies and she inherits the house in Nohant and it becomes the setting for many of her novels.

1822: She has an intense but, it is thought, platonic affair with Aurelian de Seze a lawyer. She then marries Francois Casimir Dudevant on 10th December at the age of eighteen. He is the bastard son of Baron Jean-François Dudevant. He is loving but she finds him coarse.

1823: Her son Maurice is born.

1828: Her daughter Solange is born.

1831: At the age of twenty-seven she moves to Paris leaving her husband and children behind and begins writing to earn a living. She is mentored by Henri de Latouche and the historian Charles Sainte-Beuve and she chooses the pseudonym George Sand for the first time. “Sand” is a diminutive of “Sandeau” as her current lover is Jules Sandeau, a writer. This choice is to help her get published in a male dominated world. In Paris she is seen as scandalous, not only for wearing men’s clothes but for smoking in public which is not yet acceptable for women in society. Her first published novel is “Rose et Blanche” which she writes with Sandeau.

1832: Joint articles with Sandeau are signed “J. Sand.”  Her first independent novel is “Indiana”. She meets the poet Alfred de Musset and they have an affair when things cool with Sandeau. She works hard on her writing completing twenty pages from midnight until daybreak each day. Her next published novel is “Valentine” about an unhappily married upper-class woman. From February she has another affair, this time with the Polish Prince Norbert Przanowski, which lasts until the following year. She is also romantically acquainted with the writer Prosper Merimee.

1833: From the summer onwards she has a relationship with the dramatist Alfred de Musset and then later with the actress Marie Dorval whom she had already met in January after seeing her perform on the stage. Dorval appears in the novel “Lélia” which is her next published novel.

1835: She legally divorces and she takes custody of her daughter Solange and her ex-husband takes Maurice.

1836: By now her work is very popular and in such demand that a twenty-four-volume compendium of her recent writings is published.

1837: She meets the composer Frederic Chopin for the first time. She publishes her next novel “Mauprat”.

1838: She spends the winter with Chopin in Mallorca at the old Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa. He is already suffering from tuberculosis and the cold damp conditions do not help him.

1839: Chopin spends the summer (and many afterwards) at Sand’s house in Nohant 

1840: She publishes “Le Compagnon du Tour de France” and Marie Dorval plays the lead in her play “Cosima”. The play is not a success and is cancelled after seven performances, although she and Sand remain on good terms for the rest of their lives.

1841: She publishes “Un Hiver à Majorque” (A Winter in Majorca) about her trip with Chopin. She now becomes interested in politics and many republicans consult her for her advice.

1843: “Consuelo” is completed.

1845: “Le Meunier d’Angibault” is published.

1846: She writes the pastoral novel “La Mare au Diable”.

1847Chopin and Sand separate. She completes “Le Péché de Monsieur Antoine” about the difficulties of farming life.

1848: The 1848 Revolution begins in Paris. Sand starts a newspaper for a worker’s co-operative and completes the novel “François le Champi”. She becomes a member of the provisional government as an ardent republican.

1849: She completes “La Petite Fadette”. Frederic Chopin dies and she is notably absent from his funeral in Paris and then burns most of their letters, saving only four. In December her son Maurice invites the engraver Alexandre Manceau to celebrate Christmas with them in Nohant and Sand promptly falls in love with him. He is a willing lover and becomes her secretary and they stay together for fifteen years until his death.

1851: Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte’s stages a coup d’état and whilst many republicans are imprisoned or go into exile Sand remains in France and even manages to negotiate pardons or reduced sentences for some of her friends. 

1852: She publishes “Les Maîtres Sonneur”s.

1854: Her next novel “Lélia” is about a beautiful woman loved by a young poet who can only show him the affection of a mother. She spends much of her time in Nohant where life is more peaceful and there she entertains her grandchildren.

1855: She writes “Histoire de Ma Vie” (History of My Life) and “Elle et Lui”. 

1857: She publishes “Les Beaux Messieus de Bois-Dore” in serial form in “Le Progres Illustre”. 

1864: She moves to live in Palaiseau, a suburb of Paris, with Alexandre Manceau where she looks after him in his last months.

1871: During the short-lived Paris Commune of 1871 she speaks to the Versailles Assembly against the Communards and urges them to take violent action against people she sees as thugish rebels. 

George Sand (Armandine Aurore Lucille Dupin) died in her house in Nohant on 9th June 1876. She was buried in the private graveyard behind the chapel at Nohant-Vic. (in 2003 plans that her remains should be moved to the Pantheon in Paris caused a major in controversy).