George Sand

On this date in 1804, George Sand (née Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) was born in Paris. Raised mainly by her grandmother, she was taught for three years by the Augustinian nuns, then read widely on her own. She scandalously left her unsympathetic husband, Baron François Casimi Dudevant, whom she married in 1822, to embark on a career as a novelist.

That career took off with the success of her second novel, Indiana (1832). She and Dudevant had a son, Maurice, and a daughter, Solange, before separating in 1835. Unwilling to have her freedom restricted by sexist codes, she adopted the nom de plume “George Sand,” often appeared in public in male clothing and befriended the literarati of her day, becoming a noted celebrity.

She was prolific even for her era of romantic wordiness. Consuelo was a novel in eight volumes and Histoire de ma vie, her autobiography, is 20 volumes. Sand was an outspoken critic of clericalism for most of her life, but invoked “God” frequently in her writings and letters. She went through deistic, spiritualistic and pantheistic stages, but never returned to Christianity.

Her most famous liaison was with the composer Chopin, who, while far more orthodox than Sand in his political views, also refused to return to the Catholic Church. Her enduring legacy is as a rebel and role model living life as freely and fully as men. She instructed there should be no religious rites at her funeral at age 71, which was presided over by freethinker Victor Hugo. (D. 1876)

Freedom From Religion Foundation