Home > L'association > Contributions > Article de Karen Offen
  • Article

  Article de Karen Offen

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Karen Offen, Universitaire Américaine de l’Université de Stanford nous propose cet article sur André Léo, publié en 1991

Published version: Entry on André Léo by Karen Offen
in An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers, ed. Katharina M. Wilson. Vol. 1, pp. 35-36. (New York & London: Garland Publishing Inc., 1991)


André Léo
(a.k.a. Victoire-Léodile Béra, Mme Grégoire de Champseix)
Born August 18, 1824, Lusignan (Vienne); died 1900, Paris
Genre(s): essay, novel, journalist, polemic
Language(s): French.
Born to a retired landowning French naval officer and his third wife, Léodile Béra grew up in the Poitou countryside. In late 1851 or early 1852 she married Grégoire Champseix, a disciple and lieutenant of Pierre Leroux who had relocated in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the wake of the repression following the revolution of 1848. In 1853 twin sons, André and Léo, were born; according to one account, the couple also had a daughter. The family returned to Paris from Switzerland following the amnesty of 1860 and quickly became active in political causes. Champseix died in late 1863 and his widow began to publish under a pseudonym composed of the names of her twin sons. A number of her novels concerning the problem of marriage for French women appeared in Le Siècle in serial form. In 1867 she became very active in debating the problem of women’s employment, and in 1868 she founded the Société pour la Revendication du Droit de la Femme [Society for the Pursuit of Woman’s Right(s)], which merged in 1881 with a second group established in 1870 by Maria Deraismes. Throughout the late 1860s her Parisian residence served as a gathering point for radicals and women’s movement figures from Europe and North America.
During the Prussian siege of Paris and the Commune of 1871, André Léo became active as a public speaker and political journalist of repute. In the newspaper, La Sociale, she repeatedly called the Communards to account for overlooking women’s potential contributions to the revolutionary effort. In hiding for two months following the defeat of the Commune, she finally escaped to Switzerland. There she became the associate and companion of Benoît Malon, who subsequently became a major leader of non-Marxian socialism in France. Their union in exile (Switzerland and Italy) lasted six years, but was marred by repeated infidelities on his part. Little is currently known of André Léo’s later life, following her return to France in 1880, though she did continue to publish fiction and tracts until the end of the century. The only scholarly study to date is that of Fernanda Gastaldello, which contains many authenticated biographical details, as well as a very extensive bibliography of André Léo’s works and a lengthy study of her journalistic and literary contributions.
- Works (selected):
- Un Mariage scandaleux (1862; new ed. 1883)
- Une vieille fille; articles de divers journaux sur un mariage scandaleux (1864)
- Observations d’une mère de famille à M. Duruy (1865)
- Les Deux filles de M. Plichon (1865)
- Un Divorce (1866)
- La Femme et les moeurs. Liberté ou monarchie (1869)
- Aline-Ali (1869)
- Légendes corrèziennes (1870)
- La Guerre sociale; discours prononcé au Congrès de la Paix à Lausanne, 1871 (1871)
- Marianne (1877)
- L’Epousée du bandit (1880)
- L’Enfant des Rudère (1881)
- La Justice des choses (1891)
- La Famille Audroit et l’éducation nouvelle (1899)
- Unpublished manuscript memoirs. Descaves collection, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.
- Dossier, Archives de la Prefecture de Police B/A 1008.
- Translations:
"Woman and morals", partially tr. in The Agitator (Chicago) by Kate Newell Doggett. (1869).
- De Vrouw en de zeden. I. Vrijheid of overheersching? II. De fysieke minderheid der vrouw. III. Verstandelijke minderheid. [no place, no date].
- Bibliography:
- André Léo, une journaliste de la Commune, Le Lerot reveur, 44 (March 1987).
- Arnaud, Angélique, "Madame André Léo," L’Avenir des femmes (15 Oct. 1871).
- Dictionnaire biographique du Mouvement ouvrier fran\ais, ed. J. Maitron, vol. 2, pt. 5, p. 52.
- Dictionnaire de la Commune, ed. B. Noël (1971) p. 235.
- Gastaldello, F. "André Léo: Quel Socialisme?" Laureate Thesis, Modern Foreign Language and Literature, University of Padua, Italy, 1978-79.
- Lejeune, P. "Une grande journaliste communarde: Léodile Champceix, dite André Léo," Des Femmes en mouvements 2 (Feb. 1978): 58-59.
- Perrier, A. "Grégoire Champseix et André Léo," Actualité de l’histoire 30 (1960): 38-39.
- Schulkind, E. "Socialist Women in the 1871 Paris Commune," Past and Present 106 (Feb. 1985): 124-163.
- Thomas, E. Les Pétroleuses (1963); tr. as The Woman Incendiaries, 1966)

Karen Offen

kmoffen@stanford.edu