LENCLOS, NINON DE (1615-1705), the daughter of a gentleman of good position in Touraine, was born in Paris in November 1615. Her long and eventful life divides into two periods, during the former of which she was the typical French woman of the gayest and most licentious society of the 17th century, during the latter the recognized leader of the fashion in Paris, and the friend of wits and poets. She had a succession of lovers, among them being Gaspard de Coligny, the marquis d'Estrees, La Rochefoucauld, Conde and Saint Evremond. Queen Christina of Sweden visited her, and Anne of Austria was power less against her. Eventually she settled down to the social leader ship of Paris. Among her friends she counted Mme. de la Sabliere, Mme. de la Fayette and Mme. de Maintenon. Her long friendship with Saint Evremond deserves notice. They had been lovers in their youth, and throughout his long exile the wit seems to have kept a kind remembrance of her. The few really authen tic letters of Ninon are those addressed to her old friend.
If Ninon owes part of her posthumous fame to Saint Evremond, she owes at least as much to Voltaire, who was presented to her as a promising boy poet by the abbe de Chateauneuf. To him
she left 2,000 francs to buy books, and his letter on her was the chief authority of many subsequent biographers. Her per sonal appearance is, according to Sainte-Beuve, best described in Clelie, a novel by Mlle. de Scudery, in which she figures as Clarisse. Her distinguishing characteristic was neither beauty nor wit, but high spirits and perfect evenness of temperament.
The letters of Ninon published after her death were, according to Voltaire, all spurious, and the only authentic ones are those to Saint Evremond, which can be best studied in Dauxmesnil's edition of Saint Evremond, and his notice on her. Sainte-Beuve has an interesting notice of these letters in the Causeries du Lundi, vol. iv. The Correspondance authentique was edited by E. Colombey in 1886. See also Helen K. Hayes, The Real Ninon de l'Enclos (1908) ; and Mary C. Rowsell, Ninon de l'Enclos and her century ( 91 o) ; E. Magne, Ninon de Lenclos. Portraits et documents inedits (1925), pp. 266.