Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (20 June 1786 – 23 July 1859) was a French poet and novelist.
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore was born in Douai. Following the French Revolution, her father’s business was ruined, and she traveled with her mother to Guadeloupe in search of financial help from a distant relative. Marceline’s mother died of yellow fever there, and the young girl somehow made her way back to France.
At age 16, back in Douai, she began a career on stage. In 1817 she married her second husband.
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore published Élégies et Romances, her first poetic work, in 1819. Her melancholy, elegiacal poems are admired for their grace and profound emotion.
Marceline appeared as an actress and singer in Douai, Rouen, the Opéra-Comique in Paris, and the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where she notably played Rosine in Beaumarchais’s Le Barbier de Séville. She retired from the stage in 1823.
The publication of her innovative volume of elegies in 1819 marks her as one of the founders of French romantic poetry. Her poetry is also known for taking on dark and depressing themes, which reflects her troubled life. She is the only female writer included in the famous Les Poètes maudits anthology published by Paul Verlaine in 1884. A volume of her poetry was among the books in Friedrich Nietzsche’s library.