One of the first famous feminists. 1748 - 1793

Marie Gouzes was born to a middle-class family in 1748, the daughter of a butcher and a maid. She married at age sixteen and had a son, but after her husband died she vowed never to marry again, and changed her name to Olympe de Gouges. She became an active participant in French political life around the time of the French Revolution, championing such diverse causes as slave emancipation, the creation of a national theater, support of female writers, better road conditions, maternity hospitals, divorce, and the rights of orphaned children and single mothers. She wrote pamphlets and articles defending her ideas, amongst which the Declaration of the rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, but all her life she was persecuted. Finally she fell victim of the guillotine in 1793, for having defended Louis XVI against the revolution.