Marie-Louise Mignot was born in Paris in 1712, the niece of Voltaire, who became her guardian after the death of her father. After marrying Nicolas-Charles Denis in 1738, ordinary war commissioner, she kept the name Madame Denis, under which she was then known. When her husband died in 1744, she opened a salon with Voltaire and became his governess. A year later, their relationship fell in love and she moved in with him. In 1755 they moved to Geneva, then to Ferney, where they lived in what is today Voltaire's Château. As heiress of the castle, she sold the property on the death of the latter in 1778 and returned to live in Paris.
In 1740, at the age of 28, Frederick II became King of Prussia, a small, fragmented kingdom. An outstanding military strategist and "enlightened despot", he was also passionate about French literature and dreamed of conversing with Voltaire. A correspondence between the two men was born. On the death of Emilie du Châtelet, Voltaire, distraught, accepted Frédéric II's invitation and left to settle at the Prussian court for two years. After a euphoric beginning, their friendly relationship deteriorates and Voltaire returns to France. On the way, Frederick II had him arrested in Frankfurt for a month in order to retrieve a book of poetry he had given him, which he feared Voltaire might misuse.
François-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, was born in 1694 in Paris. French writer and philosopher, he is a great figure of the Enlightenment who fought all his life against injustice and intolerance and pleaded for equality. He is also a great humanist who fought against religious fanaticism and for freedom of opinion. From theatre to poetry, philosophical works and famous tales such as Lettres philosophiques and Candide, he wrote many and varied works. Throughout his life, Voltaire rubbed shoulders with the greats of this world and with monarchs, such as the King of Prussia Frederick II, whom he joined in Berlin in 1749 on the death of Emilie du Châtelet, the love of his life. After their friendly relations finally deteriorated, he left Berlin in 1753 and settled in Geneva and then in Ferney, with Marie-Louise Mignot, his governess and companion. He then acquired what is now known as the Château de Voltaire, and remained for nearly 25 years on the French-Swiss border. He returned to Paris in 1778 where he died that same year.
Émilie du Châtelet is a French woman of letters born in 1706 in Paris. Born into a wealthy nobility, she received from her father the same education as a boy. Rarely at the time, she seized the opportunity to learn many subjects such as languages, scientific disciplines, horse riding or theatre. In 1733, at the age of 27, she met Voltaire. Then in disgrace following the publication of his Philosophical Letters, he leaves to join her in a castle she owns in Cirey-sur-Blaise, in Lorraine. They will share an affair for 15 years and will remain united notably by their passion for philosophy. After Emilie's premature death in 1749, Voltaire took care to publish her translation of Newton's treatise, Les Principes, which remained a reference until the end of the 19th century.