Belle van Zuylen was the daughter of an influential noble family and was partly raised and educated in Switzerland. In 1761, she published her first story anonymously: Le Noble, ‘The Nobleman’, a satirical piece on nobility. In the course of her life, she met with Voltaire, Benjamin Constant and David Hume, and she followed drawing classes with Maurice Quentin de la Tour. From 1784 onwards, she published various novels, political pamphlets, philosophical novels, essays and letters, such as Letters Neuchateloises (1784), Lettres de Mistress Henley (1784) and Lettres écrites de Lausanne (1785). Of her novels, Trois femmes (1795) became the best-known.