Biography of Anne de Lenclos Teacher of Love Part 1

About the famous teacher of love Anne de Lenclos, history and biography of the famous French woman.


Anne de Lenclos (1616-1705), a delicately attractive French courtesan, struck an early blow for women's liberation. She was brought up by a loving father who was a struggling musician and part-time pimp. He taught her to play the harpsichord, to dance gracefully by the age of 12, to think for herself, and to quote from the essays of Montaigne. Above all, he taught her to understand the hedonistic instincts of men . . . and women.

Ninon, as she was known, developed a scathing wit and a shrewd business sense. When her parents died before she was 20, she invested a small inheritance wisely enough to give her an income for life. And soon she was besieged by a wealthy, often aristocratic clientele willing to pay her well for her sexual favors. But she was no prostitute, selecting her lovers because of their ability to return her warmth in kind. "One needs a hundred times more esprit in order to love properly than to command armies," she said, often adding, "Love without grace is like a hook without bait." She had no reluctance in enforcing her sensitive views on love. When the Comte de Choiseul was lackadaisical in bed, she dismissed him with a line from Corneille: "Oh Heaven, what a lot of virtues you make me hate!"

An abbe and a marechal fell so strongly under her spell that each claimed the honor of having impregnated her, deciding the issue by a throw of the dice. The military man won and proudly raised their son. Even Cardinal Richelieu lusted for her body, though she preferred his mind. Ninon prevailed upon her friend and rival, Marion Delorme, to satisfy the famous cardinal, but not before he agreed to pay 50,000 crowns.

Ninon's "business" flourished. She divided her lovers into 3 classes, "the payers, the martyrs, and the favored." The philosopher, Saint-Evremond, was a favorite, and so was the Marquis de Sevigne, who inspired the following rhapsody on love from her:

Love! I feel thy divine fury! My trouble, my transports, everything announces thy presence. Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it... Since I loved you, my friends are dearer to me; I love myself more; the sounds of my theorbo and of my lute seem to me more moving, my voice more harmonious. If I want to perform a piece, passion and enthusiasm seize me; the disturbance they cause interrupts me every minute. Then a profound revery, full of delight, succeeds my transports. You are present to my eyes; I see you, I speak to you, I tell you that I love you. . . I congratulate myself and I repent; I wish for you, and wish to fly from you; I write to you and tear up my letters. I reread yours; they seem to me now gallant, now tender, rarely passionate and always too short. I consult my mirrors, I question my women about my charms. In brief, I love you; I am mad; and I do not know what I shall become, if you do not keep your word with me this evening.

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