Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy (1650/1651–4 January 1705), also known as Countess d'Aulnoy, was a French writer known for her fairy tales. When she termed her works contes de fées (fairy tales), she originated the term that is now generally used for the genre.
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. 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. 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). The Marchioness de Gadagne stayed in Madrid financed by a pension from the Spanish King. Mme d'Aulnoy hosted salons 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 Ricovatri, 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.
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)
- Dominique-César, her only son (23 November 1667, died young)
- Marie-Anne, Dame de Barvenille (27 October 1668-before 1726); she married on 29 November 1685 Claude-Denis de Héère (1658-before June 1711), 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); he married in 1767 N. de Barol-Rochemont. No known issue.
- 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
- Luisa Maria Pucci; she was the first wife of Francesco Guicciardini.
- Thérèse-Aimée (13 October 1676-after 1726); 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.
- 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)
- The present court of Spain, or, The modern gallantry of the Spanish nobility unfolded in several histories and seventy five letters from the enamour'd Teresa, to her beloved the Marquis of Mansera (1693) (Memoire de la cour d'Espagne) (1690)
- 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)
- Cunning Cinders (Finette Cendron)
- Graciosa and Percinet (Gracieuse et Percinet)
- Princess Mayblossom (La Princesse Printanière)
- Princess Rosette (La Princesse Rosette)
- The Bee and the Orange Tree (L'Orangier et l'Abeille)
- The Benevolent Frog or The Frog and the Lion Fairy (La Grenouille bienfaisante)
- The Blue Bird (L'Oiseau bleu)
- The Dolphin
- The Fortunate One or Felicia and the Pot of Pinks (Fortunée)
- The Imp Prince (Le Prince Lutin)
- The Little Good Mouse (La bonne petite souris)
- The Ram or The Wonderful Sheep (Le Mouton )
- The Story of Pretty Goldilocks or The Beauty with Golden Hair (La Belle aux cheveux d'or)
- The Yellow Dwarf (Le Nain jaune)
- The White Doe or The Hind in the Wood (La Biche au bois)
- From New Tales, or Fairies in Fashion (Contes Nouveaux ou Les Fées à la Mode) (1698)
- 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.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). . Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 917.
- Warner 1995, pp. 284-5.
- Jeanne Roche-Mazon, Autour des contes de fées : recueil d'études de Jeanne Roche-Mazon, accompagnées de pièces complémentaires, Volume 55, 1968, p 8
- Raymond Foulché-Delbosc, Revue Hispanique, Volume 69, 1926, p 11.
- Raymond Foulché-Delbosc, Revue Hispanique, Volume 69, 1926, p 106.
- Raymond Foulché-Delbosc, Revue Hispanique, Volume 69, 1926, p 109.
- Disse, Dorothy. (1 October 2004) Marie Catherine d'Aulnoy. Other Women's Voices. Retrieved 22 January 2005.
- Warner, Marina (1995). From the beast to the blonde : on fairy tales and their tellers. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-15901-6.
- Zipes, Jack When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition, ISBN 0-415-92151-1
- Amy Vanderlyn De Graff, The Tower and the Well (1984), the standard psychoanalytic study.
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- SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages: The Fairy Tales of Madame d'Aulnoy (1893) with a guide to d'Aulnoy's tales in English
- Works by Madame d'Aulnoy at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Madame d'Aulnoy at Internet Archive
- "Les Contes de Fées: The Literary Fairy Tales of France"
- Comtesse d'Aulnoy at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Madame d'Aulnoy at Library of Congress Authorities, with 72 catalogue records