Benjamin Constant was born in 1767, in Lausanne (Switzerland), and died in 1830, in Paris (France). Writer and politician, he is the author of the book (5 vol.) on the religious feeling De la religion considérée dans sa source, ses formes et ses développements and of the autobiographical novels Adolphe and Cécile (unfinished and posthumous).
Her mother died the same year he was born and Benjamin was raised by his grandparents and then by tutors. In 1785 he went to Paris and fell in love with Madame Johannot. She committed suicide afterwards. Two years later, a 19 year old Constant began his liaison with Madame de Charrière, 46 year old. In the first chapter of Adolphe he describes her as “une femme âgée, dont l’esprit, d’une tournure remarquable et bizarre, avait commencé à développer le mien”. Although he married Minna von Cramm, Constant kept his relationship with Madame de Charrière. In 1793, Constant met for the first time Charlotte de Hardenberg in Brunswick: they have a short romance. Since 1794, he was the lover of Madame de Staël, writer, thinker and political figure at that time. He stayed with her in Paris and followed her to Switzerland when she had to go into exile. They had a daughter together (Albertine de Staël). Five years later he lived a love affair with Anna Lindsay. The passion lasted one year. A crucial date for Adolphe is 1805: Madame de Charrière dies (see first chapter) and Constant meets Anna Lindsay and Charlotte de Hardenberg again. He falls madly in love with Charlotte de Hardenberg and begins the writing of Adolphe. For the character of Elléonore Constant drew inspiration from Anna Lindsay and Madame de Staël. Still, some words of Elléonore are Charlotte’s. He secretly married her and stayed alternately with his wife and Madame de Staël. In 1811, his long and fluctuating relationship with Madame de Staël was finally over. Then he fell in love with Madame Récamier. In 1816 Adolphe was published. Madame de Staël died a year later.
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