Emilie du Chatelet
Emilie du Chatelet grew up in a society where there were not many
education opportunities for women. She was born in Paris on December 17,
1706 and grew up in a household where marriage was the only way one
could improve their place in society. During her early childhood, Emilie
began to show such promise in the area of academics that soon she was able
to convince her father that she was a genius who needed attention. Provided
with good education, she studied and soon mastered Latin, Italian and
English. She also studied Tasso, Virgil, Milton and other great scholars of
In spite of her talents in the area of languages, her true love was
mathematics. Her study in this area was encouraged be a family friend, M.
de Mezieres, who recognized her talent. Emilie's work in mathematics was
rarely original or as captivating as that of other female mathematicians but it
At the age of nineteen she married Marquis du Chatelet. During the
first two years of their marriage, Emilie gave birth to a boy and a girl, and
later at the age of 27 the birth of another son followed. Neither the children
or her husband deterred her from fully grasping and indulging in the social
life of the court.
Some of Emilie's most significant work came from the period she
spent with Voltaire, one of the most intriguing and brilliant scholars of this
time, at Cirey-sur-Blaise. For the two scholars this was a safe and quiet place
distant from the turbulence of Paris and court life. She started studying the
works of Leibniz but she then started to analyze the discoveries of Newton.
She was extremely success in translating his whole book on the principals of
mathematics into French.