Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress, born at Lamery about 1690, died in Paris, March 20, 1730. She was the daughter of a hatter who established himself in Paris in 1702, and her dramatic genius was evinced by her performances in private theatricals while she was employed as a laundress. In 1717 she made her appearance at the Comedie Francaise, and was soon recognized as the first French actress of her day, excelling both in tragedy and comedy. Among her lovers, by several of whom she had children, was Maurice of Saxony; and when he needed money to enable him to reconquer Courland, Adrienne raised for him 40,000 francs by selling her plate and jewelry. She died suddenly, and was said to have been poisoned by the duchess de Bouillon, another mistress of Maurice; but the truth of this statement has never been established.
Burial in consecrated ground was refused to her remains, and Voltaire, who was counted among her lovers, wrote a poem, La mort de Mademoiselle Lecouvreur, which involved him in trouble, so that he was obliged to leave Paris. Scribe and Legouve made the career of Adrienne Lecouvreur the theme of a play, which achieved great celebrity from the representation by Rachel of the character of the heroine, which was said to be in many respects similar to her own.