Sophie von La Roche: The Bourgeois Woman Writer (1799)


Sophie von La Roche (1730–1807) was one of the first women to achieve financial independence as a professional author and publisher. Her greatest success was her first novel, Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim from 1771 (which was translated into English as History of Lady Sophia Sternheim); it is considered to be the first German-language novel written by a woman. She also published several other books, including Mein Schreibetisch (or My Writing Desk) of 1799, the title page of which appears below. The page features a profile portrait of La Roche, who is seated at her desk (i.e., her workstation), plume in hand, and surrounded by her books. Like the book itself, the title page testifies to La Roche’s conception of herself as a female writer and novelist.


Source: Sophie von La Roche. Mein Schreibetisch. Leipzig: Gräff, 1799, title page. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. Online verfügbar unter:

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Sophie von La Roche: The Bourgeois Woman Writer (1799), published in: German History Intersections, <> [November 29, 2023].