Alfred Victor De Vigny, count, a French poet, born at Loches, Touraine, March 27,1799, died in Paris, Sept. 18, 1863. He studied in Paris for a time, till his legitimist mother, fearing the ascendancy of Napoleon over her son's imagination, had him educated at her château by a private tutor. In 1816 he became a sublieutenant in the royal guard, and in 1823 a captain. In 1827, subsequent to his marriage at Paris with Lydia Bunbury, an English lady, he retired from service. He had been known since 1822 as a poet of superior genius, though his popularity with the romantic school and the masses of readers dated only from his historical romance Cinq-Mars, ou une conjuration sous Louis XIII. (2 vols., Paris, 1826), which had many editions and translations. He achieved a still more brilliant though not lasting success by his drama Chatterton, first performed in 1835 at the Théâtre Francais. His relation with Mme. Dorval, the celebrated actress, who excelled as Kitty Bell in this play, and other irregularities of his life, caused great unhappiness to his wife. In 1845 he was elected to the academy.
His earliest poetical works, Héléna, La fille de Jephté, La femme adultére, etc, were included in his Poëmes (1822). Eloa, ou la sceur des anges, Le deluge, Moïse, and Dolorida, included in his Poëmes antiques et modernes (1824-'6), are his finest and most original productions. In 1832 appeared his prose work Stello, and in 1835 Servitude et grandeur militaire. He also translated "Othello," and wrote La maréchale d'Ancre, a play entirely eclipsed by Chatterton. Ratisbonne edited his posthumous Les destinies (1864). A new edition of De Vigny's complete works appeared in 8 vols. (1863-6).