Chateaubriand, Vicomte François René de (1768–1848), a French writer and statesman. He gained fame with Atala (1801) and René (1802), two romantic tales included in Genius of Christianity (1802), a four-part work on the revival of Christianity as a moral force. These works, noted for their passion for nature, were precursors of Romanticism and greatly influenced other French writers. Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb (12 volumes, 1849–50) is his autobiography.
Chateaubriand was born in Brittany of a noble family. His visit to the United States in 1791 inspired Atala, René, and Les Natchez (1826)—all of which are romances of American Indian life. On his return to France in 1792 he supported the Royalists in the French Revolution. Soon he joined other emigres in England, where he remained until 1800. Because he supported the Bourbon restoration to the throne of France, Chateaubriand was rewarded with several political appointments.