Jeanne-Louise Delamain

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Entry by Sabine Juratic, 2007

Born in Paris around 1700, Jeanne-Louise Delamain married a bookseller of Lyon origins, Gabriel Amaulry who had set up in the capital in 1720. Her husband who died before 23 December 1735 left her with three young children. As the statutes of the bookselling community permitted masters’ widows, widow Amaulry took over from her husband at the Palais in Ile de la Cité for over three decades until her own death in 1770. Known to distribute Jansenist titles (such as the Nouvelles ecclesiastiques in 1742), or classics of erotic literature (such as Le Canapé de Fougeret de Montbron, Vénus dans le cloître and L’Académie des dames, all in the same year) as well as more philosophical or political works (such as Mahomet by Voltaire in 1742, Tanastès by Mary Madeleine Bonafons in 1747, Le Mémoire concernant l’utilité des états provinciaux du marquis by Mirabeau in 1750), she was particularly prominent in the trade of banned books and was imprisoned several times. During the Bretagne parliament crisis, she was again arrested on 11 December 1766, with her daughter Jeanne-Louise, and detained in the Bastille for one month for the distribution of the Mémoires de M. de la Chalotais. This commitment to the dissemination of prohibited titles, however, did not allow her to even scrape a living. Throughout her career, she was still forced into the lowest class of the professional community and, upon entry to the Bastille in 1766, she had no money on her, only ‘a knife, a pair of scissors, a pair of glasses, a holster, a small book and two pamphlets’.

The vagaries of fortune, largely dependent upon the success rate of illegal literature and business disruptions due to arrests, illustrate the fragility of the position of those who were on the margins of official regulations and devoted themselves to the circulation of illegal prints in the eighteenth century.

(Translated by Julie Robertson)

Selected bibliography

- Arbour, Roméo, «Amaulry, Gabriel (Vve)», dans Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France (1470-1870), Genève, Droz, 2003, p.36.
- Barbier, Frédéric, Juratic, Sabine et Mellerio, Annick, «Amaulry, Gabriel, veuve», dans Dictionnaire des imprimeurs, libraires et gens du livre à Paris (1701-1789), A-C, Genève, Droz, 2007, no 17.
- Weil, Françoise, «Les agents de la diffusion des livres interdits en France au XVIIIe siècle», dans Diffusion du savoir et affrontement des idées, 1600-1700. Festival d’histoire de Montbrison, 30 septembre au 4 octobre 1992, Montbrison, Association du Centre culturel de la ville de Montbrison, 1993, p.269-283.

Jeanne-Louise Delamain
Spouses Gabriel Amaulry
Also known as Veuve Amaulry
Birth date Around 1700
Death 1770
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