Consuelo de Saint Exupéry
Consuelo de Saint Exupéry, officially Consuelo Suncín, comtesse de Saint Exupéry, (b. Armenia, El Salvador, April 10, 1901—d. Grasse, France, May 28, 1979) was a Salvadoran-French writer and artist, and the wife of the French aristocrat, writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944).
Born Consuelo Suncín de Sandoval as the daughter of a Pipil Indian coffee grower and army reservist, she grew up in a family of wealthy landowners in a small town in the Salvadoran department of Sonsonate. She studied abroad in San Francisco, Mexico City, and also in France. Her first marriage was to a Mexican army captain, Ricardo Cardenas, whom she met in the United States. Her marriage ended in divorce. She lied and said it ended with his death during the Mexican Revolution. While in France, she met and later married Enrique Gómez Carrillo, a Guatemalan writer, diplomat and journalist. Following his death in 1927, she took up residence in Buenos Aires.
In 1931, she met and married the French aristocrat, writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. At the time Consuelo was a twice-widowed Salvadoran writer and artist who possessed a bohemian spirit and a "viper's tongue". Saint-Exupéry, thoroughly enchanted by the diminutive woman, would leave and then return to her many times — she was both his muse and over the long term the source of much of his angst. It was a stormy union, with Saint-Exupéry travelling frequently and indulging in numerous extramarital affairs, most notably with the Frenchwoman Hélène de Vogüé (1908–2003), known as 'Nelly' and referred to as "Madame de B." in Saint-Exupéry biographies.[Note 1] Consuelo also had numerous extramarital affairs.
Following the disappearance of her husband in July 1944, with her loss of Saint-Exupéry still fresh, she purportedly wrote a memoir of their life together, The Tale of the Rose, which was sealed away in a trunk in her home. Two decades after her death in 1979, the manuscript came to light when José Martinez-Fructuoso, her heir and long-time employee, and his wife, Martine, discovered it in an attic trunk. Alan Vircondelet, author of a biography of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, edited it, improving her French and dividing it into chapters. Its publication in France in 2000, one century after Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's birth on June 29, 1900, became a national sensation. As of 2011 it had been translated into sixteen languages.
Consuelo died on May 28, 1979 and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, alongside of her second husband Enrique Carrillo. The body of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was never recovered following his wartime death.
Portrayal in The Little Prince
Despite their tumultuous relationship, Antoine kept Consuelo close to his heart. She is the likely inspiration of the major character in The Little Prince, the prince's 'flower', identified as The Rose, whom he protects under glass and with a windscreen on his tiny planet which is named Asteroid B-612.
The Prince's home asteroid also possesses three tiny volcanoes, likely inspired by Consuelo's home country El Salvador. Saint-Exupéry's infidelity and doubts about his marriage are symbolised by the field of roses The Prince encounters during his visit to Earth. In the novella, The Fox tells The Prince that his Rose is unique and special, because she is the one whom he loves.
Antoine's 1939 memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des hommes), was employed to create the central theme (Terre des hommes–Man and his world) of the 1967 International World's Fair in Montreal, Canada, Expo 67. The Countess de Saint Exupéry, Consuelo, was a guest of honour at the official opening ceremonies of the world's fair.
Consuelo's relationship with Antoine was portrayed by Miranda Richardson and Bruno Ganz in the 1996 biopic Saint-Ex. The film combines elements of biography, documentary, and dramatic re-creation. Consuelo is also a major character in the forthcoming historical novel Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado. The book examines Consuelo and Antoine's time in New York City during World War II while Antoine is writing The Little Prince.
- Hélène (Nelly) de Vogüé (1908–2003), born Hélène Jaunez to a French businessman, became a well known French business executive and also an intellect fluent in several languages. She married the equally well known French noble Jean de Vogüé in 1927 and had one child with him, Patrice. Hélène is referred to only as "Madame de B." in multiple Saint-Exupéry biographies. This occurred due to agreements she made with writers before granting them access to her troves of the author-aviator's writings, which will not be released from the French national archives until 2053 after she deposited them there. It is believed she sought her anonymity in order to protect Saint-Exupéry's reputation, as during the Second World War, the U.S. O.S.S. suspected she was a secret Vichy agent and Nazi collaborator.
- Webster, Paul. Flying Into A Literary Storm: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Author Of The Little Prince, Was Born 100 Years Ago. The Celebrations, However, Have Been Marred By His Widow's Bitter Account Of Their Marriage, London: The Guardian, June 24, 2000.
- "Biography: Nelly de Vogüé (1908 – 2003)." AntoinedeSaintExupery.com. Retrieved: May 23, 2012.
- Carrol, Tim. "Secret Love of a Renaissance Man", The Telegraph, April 30, 2007.
- Carrol, Tim. Secret Love of a Renaissance Man, The Telegraph, April 30, 2007.
- Schiff, Stacy. "Bookend: Par Avion." The New York Times, 25 June 2000.
- Reif, Rita. "A Charming Prince Turns 50, His Luster Intact", The New York Times, September 19, 1993.
- Krôller, Eva-Marie. Expo '67: Canada's Camelot?, Canadian Literature, Spring-Summer 1997, Iss. 152-153, pp. 36–51.
- Allon, Yoram; Del Cullen, Hannah Patterson (2001). Contemporary British and Irish Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide. Wallflower Critical Guides. London: Wallflower. p. 334. ISBN 1903364221.
- Commire, Anne; Gale Research Company. Something about the Author (Volume 20 of Something about the Author: Facts and Pictures about Contemporary Authors and Illustrators of Books for Young People), Gale Research, 1980, ISBN 0-8103-0053-2, ISBN 978-0-8103-0053-8
- Cotsalas, Valerie (10 September 2000). "The Little Prince: Born in Asharoken". New York Times. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
- Saint-Exupéry, Consuelo de (2000). The Tale of the Rose: The Love Story Behind The Little Prince. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-8129-6717-3. Unknown parameter
- Schiff, Stacy (2006) . Saint-Exupéry: A biography (Reprinted ed.). New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-7913-5.
- Severson, Marilyn S. (2004). "Masterpieces of French Literature: Greenwood Introduces Literary Masterpieces", Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-313-31484-5, ISBN 978-0-313-31484-1.
- Paul Webster, Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, la rose du petit prince, 2000.
- Alain Vircondelet, O Consuelo, 2000.
- Abigaíl Suncín, La rosa que cautivó al principito : Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, 2003.
- Alain Vircondelet, Antoine et Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry : un amour de légende, 2005.
- Alain Vircondelet, C'étaient Antoine et Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, 2009.
- Marie-Hélène Carbonel et Martine Fransioli Martinez, Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, une mariée vêtue de noir, 2010.
- A website dedicated to Mme de Saint Exupéry
- A website dedicated to the Centennial Anniversary of Antoine and Consuelo de Saint Exupéry
- Lycée Français de San Salvador 'Antoine et Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry'.
- A website dedicated to Mme Consuelo de Saint.Exupéry