Aulnoy, Marie Catherine, Countess d' (c. 1650–1705)

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Aulnoy, Marie Catherine, Countess d' (c. 1650–1705)

Popular French author of the 17th century. Name variations: Aunoy or Anois; wrote under pseudonyms of Dunnois and Madame D. Born Marie Catherine Jumel de Barneville about 1650 at Barneville near Bourgachard (Eure); died in Paris, France, on January 14, 1705; her mother became the marquise de Gudaigne at the time of her second marriage; niece of Marie Bruneau des Loges (friend of Malherbe and Balzac, called the "tenth Muse"); married François de la Motte (a gentleman in the service of César, duc de Vendôme, who became Baron d'Aulnoy in 1654), on March 8, 1666; children: five, not all with her husband.

Selected writings:

Histoire d'Hypolite comte du Duglas (Hippolyte, Count of Douglas, 1690); Mémoires de la cour d'Espagne (Memoirs of the Court of Spain, 1690); Relation du voyage en Espagne (Account of Travels in Spain, 1691); Histoire de Jean de Bourbon (1692); Mémoires sur la cour de France (1692); Nouvelles espagnolles (Spanish Stories, 1692); Mémoires de la cour d'Angleterre (1695); Contes nouvelles ou les Fées à la mode (fairy tales, 3 vols., 1698); Le Comte de Warwick (The Earl of Warwick, 1703).

In accounts of the life of Marie Catherine d'Aulnoy, one of the most popular authors of the 17th century, it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. The same can be said of her historical novels, noted for their "imaginative interpretation of historical fact."

Born into minor nobility, she married Baron d'Aulnoy in 1666, and had several children. Sometime after the birth of her fourth child in 1669, Aulnoy became embroiled in a plot with her mother—who by a second marriage had become marquise de Gudaigne—to have her husband Baron d'Aulnoy committed for high treason. When the conspiracy was exposed, Aulnoy and her mother retreated to England, then on to Spain, but they were eventually allowed to return to France as reward for secret services rendered to the government.

Amid such events, Aulnoy still had time for writing, and she was quite prolific. She was especially noted for her Contes nouvelles ou fées à la mode, 24 fairy tales from the original stories found in the Pentamerone (1637) by Giovanni Battista Basile. The collection included L'Oiseau blue (The Blue Bird), La Chatte Blanche (The White Cat), and, her best known, La Belle aux cheveux d'or (Goldilocks),

Many of Aulnoy's 27 volumes of novels, memoirs and travel books contain autobiographical accounts of her jaunts in Europe while she was, so to speak, on the lam. She won instant success with her first novel in 1690, Histoire d'Hypolite comte du Duglas (Hippolyte, Count of Douglas), an adventure-romance set in England. Her Mémoires de la cour d'Espagne (Memoires of the Court of Spain), unlike other of her memoires that might be better classified as romantic novels, was based on authentic documents. By far her best known travel book was Relation du voyage en Espagne (Accounts of Travels in Spain), written in letter form, spanning the months between February 20, 1679, and September 28, 1680.

Aulnoy wrote two religious works and a collection of Spanish adventure stories. Her final effort, in 1703, Le Comte de Warwick (The Earl of Warwick), was the only one of her books in which her name in full appeared on the title page. Aulnoy was honored in 1698 with membership to the female Academy of the Ricovrati in Padua, where she assumed the title of Clio, Muse of History. She died in Paris in 1705.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Aulnoy, Marie Catherine, Countess d' (c. 1650–1705)

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