Claude Crespy

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Entry by Sabine Juratic, 2007

Born in Paris around 1706, daughter of a seller of roast meat or, according to others, an engraver, Claude Crespy married a modest Palace bookseller, Pierre-Jacques Bienvenu. After her husband's death around 1740, she continued his work, as widows were allowed to do under the law of the booksellers’ community. She took care of four small children and practised her profession on the Quai des Augustins while distinguishing herself particularly in the trade of illicit books. She was suspected several times of having had printed herself the illegal volumes which she sold, like an edition of Mahomet by Voltaire in October 1742. She was arrested and forbidden to trade for the first time in 1746. In 1747 her status as a bookseller was revoked permanently. But she obtained a suspension of this sanction from the chancellor and took up the profession again with renewed vigour. However, she hardly earned enough to live on. In October 1750, one of her neighbours on the Quai des Augustins, the bookseller Jean-Noël Leloup, complained to the police lieutenant that ‘the unfavourable situation of the said Bienvenu allows her to insult people on a daily basis, because those who would pursue her legally would never get their fees back.’ Despite the precariousness of her situation, she seems to have continued her trade no doubt on the fringes of the professional community, since she was no longer listed on the tax rolls of Master Booksellers beyond 1748.

Selected bibliography

- Arbour, Roméo, «Bienvenu, Pierre-Jacques (Vve)», dans Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France (1470-1870), Genève, Droz, 2003, p.77.
- Barbier, Frédéric, Juratic, Sabine et Mellerio, Annick, «Bienvenu, Pierre-Jacques, veuve», dans Dictionnaire des imprimeurs, libraires et gens du livre à Paris (1701-1789), A-C, Genève, Droz, 2007, no 163.

Claude Crespy
Spouses Pierre-Jacques Bienvenu
Also known as Veuve Bienvenu
Birth date Around 1706
Death 1776
Biographical entries in old dictionaries
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