LECOUVREUR, ADRIENNE (1692-1730), French actress, was born on the sth of April 1692, at Damery, Marne, the daughter of a hatter, Robert Couvreur. She had an unhappy childhood in Paris. She showed a natural talent for declamation and was instructed by La Grand, societaire of the Comedie Francaise, and with his help she obtained a provincial engagement. It was not until 1717, after a long apprenticeship, that she made her Paris debut as Electre, in Cr^billon's tragedy of that name, and Angelique in Moliere's George Dandin. Her success was so great that she was immediately received into the Com6die Francaise, and for thirteen years she was the queen of tragedy there, attaining a popularity never before accorded an actress. She is said to have played no fewer than 1184 times in a hundred roles, of which she created twenty-two. She owed her success largely to her courage in abandoning the stilted style of elocution of her predecessors for a naturalness of delivery and a touching simplicity of pathos that delighted and moved her public. In Baron, who returned to the stage at the age of sixty-seven, she had an able and powerful coadjutor in changing the stage traditions of generations. The jealousy she aroused was partly due to her social successes, which were many, in spite of the notorious freedom of her manner of life. She was on visiting and dining terms with half the court, and her salon was frequented by Voltaire and all the other notables and men of letters. She was the mistress of Maurice de Saxe from 1721, and sold her plate and jewels to supply him with funds for his ill-starred adventures as duke of Courland. By him she had a daughter, her third, who was grandmother of the father of George Sand. Adrienne Lecouvreur died on the 20th of March 1730. She was denied the last rites of the Church, and her remains were refused burial in consecrated ground. Voltaire, in a fine poem on her death, expressed his indignation at the barbarous treatment accorded to the woman whose " friend, admirer, lover " he was.
Her life formed the subject of the well-known tragedy (1849), by Eugene Scribe and Ernest Legouve.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)