The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 18th


Not strictly a birthday, as all I have for today’s admirable woman is a baptism date, but never mind, it will do.

Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, Comtesse de la Fayette

(Baptised) 18 March 1634 – 25 May 1693

I love those french aristocratic names, they go on for ages.

Anyway, so Marie was a writer and the lifelong friend of fellow writer Marie de Sévigné. She married in 1655 and had two sons but was deserted by her husband in 1660. She moved to Paris where she became a great favourite of Minette,  duchesse d’Orléans and fell in love with the writer, La Rochefoucauld. She lived with him till he died in 1680. She used th pen name J.R. de Segrais and set up a literary circle. She disapproved of the convent school of St. Cyr, being so close to Versailles because she considered it put the girls at risk from court rakes.

Marie wrote La Princess de Montpensier 1662, Zayde 1670, La Princesse de Clèves 1678 (a lightly disguised autobiography), her final book La Comtesse de Tende was published posthumously. I’ve read La Princesse de Clèves and I have to be honest I found it hard going, but I think Marie was a good sort, especially in the light of her concern for the girls of St Cyr, and her great affection for Marie de Sévigné.

to Madame de Sévigné in 1691:

believe me, you are the person in the world I have most truly loved.

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 5th February


Today we are blowing up balloons to celebrate

Marie Rabutin-Chantal de Sévigné

5 February 1626 – 17 April 1696

Romantic friend of Marie de Lafayette and obsessive writer of letters (mainly to her daughter). Member of Paris intellectual circle, spent a lot of time at Versailles.

The heart has no wrinkles

When I step into this library, I cannot understand why I ever step out of it

If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you ever manage?

Well, I know what to serve Marie at the party…