Countess of Ségur
|French literary history|
She is best known today for her novel Les Malheurs de Sophie ("Sophie's Misfortunes"). The action takes place in a castle in the French countryside during the Second French Empire, where Sophie lives with her parents Mr and Mrs de Réan. Curious and adventurous, she does one silly thing after another, with the critical help of her cousin Paul, who is good and tries to show her the right path. She has two friends, Camille and Madeleine de Fleurville, 'good little girls' whom she tries hard to imitate. But she will learn that life is not a bed of roses ... Therese Martin (1873-1897), known as St. Therese of Lisieux, read the novels of the Countess of Ségur when she was a child.
Supposedly, her family could trace their ancestry back to the Mongol aristocracy of Russia's Golden Horde. Her father Count Feodor Rostopchin was lieutenant-general and, later, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Russia. In 1812, he was governor of Moscow during the invasion of the Grande Armée under Napoleon I of France. While facts concerning the origin of the great fire of Moscow are disputed by historians, Sophie Rostopchine's father has been said by some to have organized (despite opposition from the wealthy property-owners in the city) the great fire which forced Napoleon to make a disastrous retreat.
In 1814 the Rostopchine family left Imperial Russia for exile, going first to the Duchy of Warsaw, then to the German Confederation and the Italian peninsula and finally in 1817 to France under the Bourbon Restoration. In France, the father established a salon, and his wife and daughter converted to Roman Catholicism.
It was in her father's salon that Sophie Rostopchine met Eugène Henri Raymond, Count of Ségur (Fresnes, Seine-et-Marne, 12 February 1798 - Château de Méry-sur-Oise, 15 July 1869), whom she married on 13/14 July 1819. The marriage was largely an unhappy one: her husband was flighty, distant and poor (until being made a Peer of France in 1830), and his infrequent conjugal visits to their château des Nouettes (near L'Aigle, Orne) produced eight children, including the father of the historian Pierre de Ségur (Eugène de Ségur is said to have called his wife "la mère Gigogne", or "Mother Gigogne" in reference to a theatre character of 1602, an enormous woman out of whose skirts a crowd of children appeared).
The Comtesse de Ségur wrote her first novel at the age of 58.
The novels of the Countess of Ségur were published from 1857 to 1872 in the "Bibliothèque rose illustrée" by the publishing house Hachette. They were collected together in 1990 under the title Œuvres de la comtesse de Ségur in the collection "Bouquins" (publisher: Robert Laffont).
- Un bon petit diable
- Les Malheurs de Sophie
- Diloy le chemineau
- Mémoires d'un âne
- Jean qui grogne et Jean qui rit
- Le Mauvais Génie
- François le bossu
- Les Caprices de Gizelle
- Pauvre Blaise
- La Fortune de Gaspard
- Quel amour d'enfant !
- Les Petites Filles modèles
- La sœur de Gribouille
- Après la pluie, le beau temps
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sophie Rostopchine, Comtesse de Ségur.|
- Works by Sophie Rostopchine, Comtesse de Ségur at Project Gutenberg
- Life and works of the comtesse de Ségur (in French)
- Link label Sophie Heywood, Catholicism and Children's Literature: the comtesse de Ségur (1799-1874), Manchester University Press, 2011
- "Sophie Rostopchine, Comtesse de Ségur". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.