Novelist Chantal Thomas becomes 10th woman to be elected to Académie française

French novelist Chantal Thomas
French novelist Chantal Thomas © Hermance Triay

The novelist and essayist Chantal Thomas has been elected to the Académie française, becoming just the tenth woman in history to be nominated as an official custodian of the French language.


Chantal Thomas is to occupy the chair of writer Jean d'Ormesson, who died in 2017. She was elected with 12 votes to 3 in favour of lexicologist Jean Pruvost and singer-songwriter Philippe Chatel. 

Only 24 academics were able to take part in the ballot, including 8 who abstained.

Thomas is the tenth woman to be chosen as an immortel, as the 40 members of the Académie française are called.

The candidacy of Jean Pruvost, an academic renowned for his advanced knowledge of the French language, had been hailed by some outside the Académie française. He could soon join Thomas, as there are still six seats vacant out of the 40.

18th century specialist and successful novelist

Chantal Thomas, 75, is a specialist of the Enlightenment, with essays on Sade, Casanova or Marie-Antoinette. 

She is an admirer of the semiologist Roland Barthes, who directed his doctoral thesis on Sade, and of the Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard.

"She is also the author of short stories, tales, plays and novels, including Les Adieux à la reine, which has been translated into some twenty languages and for which she was awarded the 2002 Femina prize," the Academy stated on its website.

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