Madame d'Aulnoy

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Madame d'Aulnoy, Baroness d'Aulnoy
Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy
Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy
BornMarie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville
Barneville-la-Bertran, Normandy, France
Died4 January 1705 (age 53–55)
Occupationfairy tale writer, baroness
Literary movementPrécieuses
Notable works
  • Sentiments of a Penitent Soul (Sentiments d'une Ame penitente)
  • The Return of a Soul to God (Le Retour d'une Ame à Dieu)
  • History of Hippolyte, Count of Douglas (Histoire d'Hippolyte, comte de Duglas) (1690)
  • History of Jean de Bourbon, Prince of Carency (Histoire de Jean de Bourbon, Prince de Carency) (1692)
  • The Count of Warwick (Le Comte de Warwick)
  • Memories of the Court of Spain, Account of the Voyage to Spain (Memoires de la cour d'Espagne, Relation du voyage d'Espagne) (1690 or 1691)
  • Memories of the Court of England (Mémoires de la cour d'Angleterre) (1695)
  • From Fairy Tales (Les Contes des Fées) (1697)
SpouseFrançois de la Motte, Baron d'Aulnoy

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy (1650/1651 – 14 January 1705),[1] also known as Countess d'Aulnoy, was a French author known for her literary fairy tales. The term contes de fées (fairy tales) has been attributed to her, but her work was called "contes DES fées" (tales of the fairies); the term "contes DE fées" comes from Mme de Murat's first fairytale compilation: "Contes de fées", published in 1698. [2]


D'Aulnoy was born in Barneville-la-Bertran, in Normandy, as a member of the noble family of Le Jumel de Barneville. She was the niece of Marie Bruneau des Loges, the friend of François de Malherbe and of Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac.[3] In 1666, she was given at the age of fifteen (by her father) in an arranged marriage to a Parisian thirty years older—François de la Motte, Baron d'Aulnoy, of the household of the Duke of Vendôme. The baron was a freethinker and a known gambler. In 1669, the Baron d'Aulnoy was accused of treason (speaking out against imposed taxes by the King) by two men who may have been the lovers of Mme d'Aulnoy (aged nineteen) and her mother, who by a second marriage was the Marchioness de Gadagne.[3][4] If found guilty, the verdict would have meant execution. The Baron d'Aulnoy spent three years in the Bastille before finally convincing the court of his innocence. The two men implicated in the accusation were executed instead. The accusations and counter-accusations are recorded in the Bastille's archives. The Marchioness de Gadagne fled to England, and although a warrant was served for Mme d'Aulnoy's arrest, she escaped from officers through a window and hid in a church.

It is possible she then worked as a spy for France (and perhaps spent some time in Holland, Spain, and England) before returning to Paris in 1685 (possibly as repayment for spying).[4] The Marchioness de Gadagne stayed in Madrid financed by a pension from the Spanish King. Mme d'Aulnoy hosted salon gatherings in her home at rue Saint-Benoît that were frequented by leading aristocrats and princes, including her close friend, Saint-Evremond.

In 1699, Mme d'Aulnoy's friend Angélique Ticquet was beheaded for having a servant retaliate against Angélique's abusive husband, also from a forced marriage. The servant was hanged for shooting and wounding Councillor Ticquet. Mme d'Aulnoy escaped persecution despite her alleged involvement and discontinued involvement in the Paris social scene for twenty years.

D'Aulnoy published twelve books including three pseudo-memoirs, two fairy tale collections and three "historical" novels. She contributed to the anthology Recueil des plus belles pièces des poètes français in 1692 and wrote a series of travel memoirs based on her supposed travels through court life in Madrid and London. And although her insights may have been plagiarized and invented, these stories later became her most popular works. She gained the reputation as a historian and recorder of tales from outside France, and elected as a member of Paduan Accademia dei Ricovrati, she was called by the name of the muse of history, Clio. However, at this time the idea of history was a much looser term which included her fictional accounts. In 150 years, the more strictly documented form of the term led to her accounts being declared "fraudulent". However, in France and England at the time her works were considered as mere entertainment, a sentiment reflected in the reviews of the period. Her truly accurate attempts at historical accounts telling of the Dutch wars of Louis XIV were less successful. The money she made from her writing helped raise her three daughters, not all produced during her time with the Baron d'Aulnoy .

Her most popular works were her fairy tales and adventure stories as told in Les Contes des Fées (Tales of fairies) and Contes Nouveaux, ou Les Fées à la Mode. Unlike the folk tales of the Grimm Brothers, who were born some 135 years later than d'Aulnoy, she told her stories in a more conversational style, as they might be told in salons. Much of her writing created a world of animal brides and grooms, where love and happiness came to heroines after surmounting great obstacles. These stories were far from suitable for children and many English adaptations are very dissimilar to the original.

Scholars Jack Zipes and David Blamires suggest that, due to the high number of similarities of MMe. d'Aulnoy's literary work with recognizable folkloric material, she must have been acquainted with the oral tradition or their literary reworking during her time.[5][6] In addition, Jacques Barchilon stated that d'Aulnoy's works can be classified under some popular tale types of the international index of folktale classification, some of which "The Animal Bride" and "Animal as Bridegroom" tale types.[7]


Madame d'Aulnoy had six children, two of whom were born after she became estranged from her husband, although they bore his name:

  • Marie-Angélique (26 January 1667, died young, probably before November 1669[8])
  • Dominique-César, her only son (23 November 1667, died young)
  • Marie-Anne, Dame de Barneville (27 October 1668[9] – before 1726[10]); she married on 29 November 1685 Claude-Denis de Héère (1658 – before June 1711[10]), a nobleman from Berry, who became Sire de Barneville, and had:
    • Jacques-Denis-Augustin de Héère (1698–?); he married on 2 November 1734 Geneviève Françoise de La Fauche. No issue.
    • Marguerite de Héère, Dame de Vaudoy.
    • Denise-Lucrèce de Héère (? – after 1772).
    • Marguerite-Françoise de Héère; she married Jacques-François Tardieu, "Count" of Malissy.
    • Marie-Anne de Héère (6 August 1701 – 3 January 1737); she married on 24 September 1735 Jean-Pierre de Fontanges, and had a son:
      • François-Alexandre de Fontanges (28 December 1736 – 1754).
  • Judith-Henriette (14 November 1669 – after 1711); she married on 4 September 1704 in Madrid Giulio Orazio Pucci, second Marquis of Bargente (Barsento, in Italy), and had at least two children:
    • Antonio Pucci[11]
    • Luisa Maria Pucci; she was the first wife of Francesco Guicciardini.
  • Thérèse-Aimée (13 October 1676 – after 1726[11]); she married Edmé des Préaux d'Antigny and had a daughter:
    • Edmée-Angélique des Préaux d'Antigny (born on 18 November 1704 – death date unknown); she was married to Pierre-Joseph Vermale but the marriage was annulled.
  • Françoise-Angélique-Maxime (c. 1677 – 17 November 1727); she never married and had no issue.



  1. ^ Commire, Anne (8 October 1999). Women in World History. Gale. p. 626. ISBN 978-0-7876-4061-3.
  2. ^ Zipes, Jack (2001). The great fairy tale tradition : from Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm : texts, criticism. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-97636-X.
  3. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aulnoy, Marie Catherine le Jumel de Barneville de la Motte". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 917.
  4. ^ a b Warner 1995, pp. 284–5.
  5. ^ Zipes, Jack (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Oxford University Press. 2015. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-19-968982-8.
  6. ^ Blamires, David. "4. From Madame d'Aulnoy to Mother Bunch: popularity and the fairy tale". In: Julia Briggs, Dennis Butts (eds.). Popular Children’s Literature in Britain. Routledge, 2008. ISBN 9781138276710.
  7. ^ Barchilon, Jacques. "Adaptations of Folktales and Motifs in Madame D'Aulnoy's "Contes": A Brief Survey of Influence and Diffusion". In: Marvels & Tales 23, no. 2 (2009): 353-64. Accessed 23 June 2020.
  8. ^ Jeanne Roche-Mazon, Autour des contes de fées : recueil d'études de Jeanne Roche-Mazon, accompagnées de pièces complémentaires, Volume 55, 1968, p. 8
  9. ^ Raymond Foulché-Delbosc, Revue Hispanique, Volume 69, 1926, p. 11.
  10. ^ a b Raymond Foulché-Delbosc, Revue Hispanique, Volume 69, 1926, p. 106.
  11. ^ a b Raymond Foulché-Delbosc, Revue Hispanique, Volume 69, 1926, p 109.
  12. ^ Planché, James Robinson. Fairy Tales by The Countess d'Aulnoy, translated by J. R. Planché. London: G. Routledge & Co. 1856. pp. 332-374.


Further reading[edit]

  • Palmer, Nancy, and Melvin Palmer. "English Editions of French "Contes De Fees" Attributed to Mme D'Aulnoy." Studies in Bibliography 27 (1974): 227-32. Accessed 29 June 2020.
  • Planché, James Robinson. 'Fairy Tales by The Countess d'Aulnoy, translated by J. R. Planché. London: G. Routledge & Co. 1856.
  • Verdier, Gabrielle. "COMMENT L'AUTEUR DES «FÉES À LA MODE» DEVINT «MOTHER BUNCH»: MÉTAMORPHOSES DE LA COMTESSE D'AULNOY EN ANGLETERRE." Merveilles & Contes 10, no. 2 (1996): 285–309. Accessed 30 June 2020.

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