La Tour du Pin, Henriette de (1770–1853)

views updated

La Tour du Pin, Henriette de (1770–1853)

French writer. Name variations: Henrietta, Marquise de La Tour du Pin. Born Henriette-Lucy Dillon in Paris, France, in 1770; died on April 2, 1853; daughter of Arthur Dillon (1750–1794) and Lucie de Rothe (1751–1782, lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette); married Frederic-Séraphin, comte de Gouvernet, later Marquise de La Tour du Pin (1759–1837, a soldier, prefect, and minister to the court at The Hague), in 1787; children: Humbert (1790–1816); Séraphine (1793–1795); Charlotte, known as Alix (1796–1822, who married the comte de Liedekerke Beaufort); Cécile de La Tour du Pin (1800–1817); Aylmar (1806–1867); three others died in infancy.

"Her memoirs are every bit as fascinating as those of Madame de Staël, Madame de Genlis , and Madame d'Abrantès ," wrote John Weightman in The Observer. "She has an enchanting eighteenth-century liveliness as well as an indomitable spirit. She was obviously a remarkable woman." Henriette de La Tour du Pin wrote of the Revolution and the Age of Napoleon because she had experienced both events firsthand.

She was born in 1770, during the final years of the reign of Louis XV. Two years after her marriage at age 16 to Frederic-Séraphin, comte de Gouvernet, later Marquise de La Tour du Pin, the revolution of 1789 broke out, robbing her of her post as lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette and prompting her family to flee to Albany, in upstate New York, to wait out the revolution and avoid the guillotine. Her father Arthur Dillon, whose second wife was Comtesse de La Touche (first cousin of Empress Josephine ), was executed by the Revolutionaries in 1794.

Following a return to France, Mme de La Tour du Pin was lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Louise of Austria while her husband served Napoleon as prefect in Brussels (1801–12), then prefect in Amiens. He was also one of the Ambassadors Plenipotentiary of France at the Congress of Vienna and ambassador in Turin (1820–30).

Having fled the Revolution of 1830, she and her husband lived in Nice and Lausanne. Following the death of her husband in 1837, she settled at Pisa, in Tuscany, where she lived until her death on April 2, 1853. The mother of eight children, Mme de La Tour du Pin determined, at age 50, to document her life for her only surviving child.

suggested reading:

Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin. Translated by Felice Harcourt. NY: McCall Publishing, 1971.

About this article

La Tour du Pin, Henriette de (1770–1853)

Updated About content Print Article