Suzanne Necker's Mélanges:
Gender, Writing, and Publicity
If mama had written, I am persuaded that she would have acquired a very great reputation for intelligence; but my father could not stand a femme auteur and, since he has seen me writing his portrait just over the past four days, he has already been taken up with worry, and would call me jokingly: "Monsieur de Saint-Ecritoire." He wants to put me on my guard against the weakness of amour‐ propre. Mama had a strong taste for composition, she sacrificed it for him.
— Germaine Necker [de Staël], 1785
In 1798, four years after Suzanne Necker's death, her husband published three volumes of Melanges culled from her papers; three years later he published two volumes of Nouveaux melanges. Virtually all of these papers had previously been unpublished. 1 One might suppose that Jacques Necker's publication of his wife's work would have established her reputation as a writer. Instead, it canonized her as a virtuous wife whose crowning virtue was the feminine modesty that kept her writing private and held her back from becoming a femme auteur. Rather than transforming the woman into a writer, the published text was presented as evidence of the private female virtue that was incompatible with the publicity of being a writer.
During her lifetime, however, Suzanne Necker had been a public figure. In 1766, two years after she arrived in Paris from Lausanne and a____________________