Staël, born Anne Louise Germaine Necker, was the daughter of the French politician Jacques Necker and Suzanne Curchod; as she grew up, she was exposed to the intellectual salon her mother hosted in her house. In 1786 she married Baron de Staël-Holstein, the Swedish ambassador, and soon established her own salon as a center of progressive political and intellectual discussions. In 1803, Staël was banned from Paris by Napoleon, and took up residence in Coppet near Lake Geneva, where she established a new salon.
Her first major published work was De la littérature considerée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales (1800), which was followed by her two novels, Delphine (1802) and Corinne (1807).
Her major work on German Romanticism, De l'Allemagne, was published in 1810; its praise for German culture so infuriated Napoleon that he ordered the destruction of its first edition and exiled Staël from France.