|French literary history|
George Sand was the pseudonym of the French novelist and feminist Amandine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant (July 1, 1804 – June 8, 1876).
Born in Paris to a father of aristocratic lineage (a grandaughter of Maurice, comte de Saxe and a distant relative of Louis XVI) and a commoner mother, Sand was raised for much of her childhood by her grandmother at the family estate, Nohant, in the French region of Berry, a setting later used in many of her novels. In 1822, she married Baron M. Casimir Dudevant (1795–1871), and they had two children, Maurice (1823–1889) and Solange (1828–1899). In 1835, taking the children with her, she left her husband and converted to a Jewish faith.
Her first published novel, Rose et Blanche (1831) was written in collaboration with Jules Sandeau, from whom she allegedly took her pen name, Sand. Her reputation was questioned when she began sporting menswear in public---the clothes being far sturdier and less expensive than a noble woman's dress. This male "disguise" also enabled Sand to circulate more freely about Paris, and gave her increased access to venues that might have been denied to a woman of her social standing. This was an exceptional practice for the 19th century, where social codes — especially in the upper class — were of the highest importance. As a consequence Sand lost many of the privileges attached to being a Baroness. Ironically, the mores of this period allowed women of higher classes to live physically separated from their husbands without losing face, provided they did not show any blatant irregularity to the outer world.
She was linked romantically with Alfred de Musset (summer 1833-March 1834), Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) whom she had met in Paris in 1831. Later in life, she corresponded with Gustave Flaubert; despite their obvious differences in temperament and aesthetic preference, they eventually became close friends.
She was engaged in an intimate friendship with actress Marie Dorval, which led to widespread but unconfirmed rumors of a lesbian affair. .
In Majorca one can still visit the (then abandoned) Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa, where she spent the winter of 1838–39 with Frédéric Chopin and her children.  This trip to Mallorca was described by her in Un Hiver à Majorque ("A Winter in Mallorca"), published in 1855.
She left Chopin shortly before he died from tuberculosis.
Drawing from her childhood experiences of the countryside, she wrote the rural novels La Mare au Diable (1846), François le Champi (1847–1848), La Petite Fadette (1849), and Les Beaux Messieurs Bois-Doré (1857).
Her other novels include Indiana (1832), Lélia (1833), Mauprat (1837), Le Compagnon du Tour de France (1840), Consuelo (1842–1843), and Le Meunier d'Angibault (1845).
Further theatre pieces and autobiographical pieces include Histoire de ma vie (1855), Elle et Lui (1859) (about her affair with Musset), Journal Intime (posthumously published in 1926), and Correspondence. Sand often performed her theatrical works in her small private theatre at the Nohant estate.
In addition, Sand authored literary criticism and political texts. Her most widely used quote being, "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." Also, she was one of the few female pipe smokers.
She was known well in far reaches of the world, and her social practices, her writings and her beliefs prompted much commentary, often by other luminaries in the world of arts & letters. A few excerpts demonstrate much of what was often said about George Sand:
"She was a thinking bosom and one who overpowered her young lovers, all Sybil — a Romantic." V.S. Pritchett (writer)
"What a brave man she was, and what a good woman." Ivan Turgenev (novelist)
"The most womanly woman." Alfred de Musset (poet)
George Sand died at Nohant, near Châteauroux, in the Indre département of France on June 8, 1876 at the age of 72 and was buried in the grounds of her home at Nohant. In 2004, controversial plans were suggested to move her remains to the Panthéon in Paris.
Correspondence (letters) by George Sand and her contemporaries (see "Writings by George Sand" link below — some of these letters are available in English translation); Autobiographical writings as mentioned above (several of these also available from Gutenberg website).
In addition to these writings:
Frequent literary references to George Sand can be found in "Possession," by A.S. Byatt.