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Profile of the Day: Madame de La Fayette

Today we remember French writer Madame de La Fayette, whose novel, La Princesse de Clèves, is considered to be France’s first historical novel and one of the earliest novels in literature.

Image: Madame de La Fayette

La Fayette was born Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne in March 1634. According to baptism records, she was baptized on March 18, 1634 in the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, France. She was the eldest daughter of Marc Pioche, Esquire to the King, and Isabella Pena, the daughter of François Pena, who served as the King’s physician. At the age of 16, La Fayette was appointed a maid of honor to Queen Anne of Austria. In 1655, she married François Motier, comte de La Fayette, a widowed nobleman who was 18 years her senior. They had two sons before separating in 1659.

She held an active social life in Paris salons and formed close friendships in literary circles. In 1662, La Fayette anonymously published her first short novel, La Princesse de Montpensier. The short novel was well received and over 350 years later, is still widely read in France. In 1678, La Fayette anonymously published La Princesse de Clèves. A huge success during its initial publication, the novel is considered to be La Fayette’s great masterpiece.

La Fayette died on May 25, 1693 at the age of 59.

View Madame de La Fayette’s Geni Profile

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