Johann Heinrich Samuel Formey

Personal data
Born May 31, 1711
in Berlin

Died March 07, 1797
in Berlin
Jean Henri Samuel Formey

Formey was born in Berlin in 1711 to French parents. He studied at the French college in Berlin (Collège François) from 1720 to 1727. In 1731 he was appointed Pastor of the French church in Brandenburg. Professor of Rhetoric (1736-?) and Philosophy (1739-?) at the French college in Berlin. Perpetual secretary of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin from 1748 onwards. Formey was also a contributor to the monumental French Encyclopédie, edited by Diderot and d'Alembert.

Life with Boswell

Boswell met Formey at Andrew Mitchell's on August 1, 1764, in Berlin. Boswell found him "facetious, but vain". On September 13 Boswell attended a meeting at the Royal Academy of Berlin at which Formey was also present and "read a letter from a physician at Truro in Cornwall concerning some astronomical phenomenon".


Formey was the author of numerous writings, of which only a small part is mentioned here. In 1756 was published Formey's Mélanges philosophiques, which was translated and published in English in 1759 as Philosophical Miscellanies on Various Subjects. He also wrote La belle Wolfienne (1741-1750/3) on the philosophy of Christian Wolff, as well as several books critical of Rousseau, including L'esprit de Julie (1762), L'Anti-Emile (1762) and Emile Chrétien (1764). Some of these books may be available via the AbeBooks used books search engine.