chapter
Introduction: biography and memory
Pages 13

Flora Tristan was beautiful. This was one point on which those who knew her generally agreed. The journalist and campaigner for women’s rights, Herbinot de Mauchamps, admired ‘the ardour of those big black eyes, the ebony of that flowing black hair’, as did the writer Antoine-Laurent-Appollinaire Fée.1 For others she was a ‘very beautiful wanderer’, an ‘adorable vampire’, ‘a most glorious woman’.2 The journalist and critic, Jules Janin, has left the most detailed description of her:

When I saw her for the first time, she was wonderfully attractive…. Elegant and lithe in stature, with a proud and animated appearance, her eyes brimming with the fires of the Orient, long black hair which might have served as a cloak, dark complexion, that fine olive tone that shimmers vividly, when youth and emotion mingle on that cheek aflame with a consuming fire[;] fine, attractive, even teeth, considerable grace in her bearing, firmness in her step, austerity in her dress…. [U]nhappy not to be queen somewhere, if not to be queen everywhere, she was a very disturbing and very curious subject of study; you were afraid to meet her, and that fear was mixed with a certain joy.3