Marie Souvestre

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Marie Souvestre
Marie Souvestre.jpg
Born (1830-05-28)28 May 1830
Brest, France
Died 30 March 1905(1905-03-30) (aged 74)
Nationality French
Occupation Educator

Marie Souvestre (28 April 1830 – 30 March 1905) was a female educator who sought to develop independent minds in young women.[1]

She was born in Brest, France, the daughter of French novelist Émile Souvestre. She founded the girls' boarding schools Les Ruches ("the beehives") in Fontainebleau, France, where writer Natalie Clifford Barney and her sister Laura Clifford Barney were later educated, and Allenswood, in Wimbledon, outside London, where her most famous pupil was Eleanor Roosevelt.[2] Souvestre took a special interest in Roosevelt, who learned to speak French fluently and gained self-confidence.[3] Roosevelt wished to continue at Allenswood, but in 1902 was summoned home by her grandmother to make her social debut.[3] Roosevelt and Souvestre maintained a correspondence until March 1905, when Souvestre died, and after this Eleanor placed Souvestre's portrait on her desk and brought her letters with her.[3]

Dorothy Bussy, the sister of writer Lytton Strachey, anonymously published a novel, Olivia (1949), about her experience as a pupil at Les Ruches, describing the protagonist's crush on the headmistress Mlle. Julie (i.e., Souvestre). Bussy later taught Shakespeare at Allenswood.[4]

Souvestre has been described as a lesbian.[5]


  1. ^ "Marie Souvestre (1830-1905)". George Washington University. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Rodriguez, Suzanne (2002). Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 39–40. ISBN 0-06-093780-7. 
  3. ^ a b c "Marie Souvestre (1830–1905)". The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project at George Washington University. Archived from the original on November 24, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  4. ^ Cook, Blanche Wiesen (Summer 1979). "'Women Alone Stir My Imagination': Lesbianism and the Cultural Tradition". Signs. 4 (4): 718–739. doi:10.1086/493659. JSTOR 3173368. 
  5. ^ Rowley, Hazel (2010). Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. pg. 185. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-15857-6.