I don’t think we hear much about George Sand anymore, but she was one of the most popular novelists of her time, more renowned than her peers Victor Hugo or Honoré de Balzac, and her popularity never flagged during her lifetime. She was one of the most notable writers of the Romantic period, which emphasized emotion and lyrical descriptions of landscape over realism.
Sand, who had royal relations, was quite a character. She dressed in men’s clothing in a time when women had to apply for a permit to do so and smoked cigars. She felt that male dress gave her access to venues that other women writers could not enter. After marrying at eighteen and having two children, she separated from her husband and had well-known affairs with quite a few notable men of her time, including the writer Mérimée, the poet Alfred de Musset, and most notably the composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin. The novel that first brought her fame, Indiana, is a protest against the conventions that tie a woman to her husband. Her favorite theme was the transcendence of love against convention and class.
Sand wrote pastoral novels that were very popular, and she adopted the causes of women’s rights and the rights of workers and the poor. Her writing was admired by such figures as Delacroix and Flaubert. Fyodor Dostoevsky also was a fan and translated one of her works into Russian, only to find that someone else had already done that.
Although Sand’s works are not read as much anymore as some other writers, she has been depicted in film several times, my favorite being the film Impromptu starring Judy Davis and Hugh Grant.
Most popular works: Indiana, Valentine, Lélia, La Mare au diable, François le Champi, and La Petite Fadette
Other works: Histoire de ma vie, Contes d’une grand’mère, Jacques, La Marquise, and many many others