Comtesse de Lafayette
1634 – 1692 A.D.
Maria-Madeleine, Comtesse de Lafayette, French novelist, and social leader, daughter of Marc de Lavergue, Governor of Havre.
She studied Greek, Latin and Italian, and inspired in one of her tutors, Gillles de Ménage, an enthusiastic admiration which he expressed in verse in three or four languages.
Her union with the Comte de Lafayette was a marriage of convenience, while in 1665 she began an intimacy with the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, then engaged in his Maximes. The constancy and affection that marked this liaison on both sides justified it in the eyes of society, and when in 1680 La Rochefoucauld died, Mme. de Lafayette received the sincerest sympathy.
Her literary salon was the most aristocratic in Paris. In 1662 her first novel, La Princesse de Montpousier appeared, this was followed by Zayde, and in 1678 she published her masterpiece, La Princesse de Cléves, which may be called the first of the modern novels of sentiment.
The character of her work and her history have combined to give an impression of melancholy and sweetness that only represents one side, for a correspondence brought to light comparatively recently showed her as the acute diplomatic agent of Jeanne de Nemours, duchess of Savoy, and that she played an important political rôle at the court of Louis XIV.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.