Founding Story: d’Aulnoy Editions

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville – known as Madame or Countess d’Aulnoy (/dol-ˈnwɑː/) – was a 17th-century French writer, lover, and possible spy.

Credited with coining the term “fairy tales,” d’Aulnoy’s stories gave women greater control of their destinies than in fairy tales by men. She shared these and other works at salon gatherings she hosted at her home. In an introduction to a new translation of d’Aulnoy’s work, academic Jack Zipes describes how these salons “created an atmosphere… in which they could freely exchange ideas that challenged the hypocrisy and immorality of Louis XIV’s court.”

“Powerless, D’Aulnoy and many other gifted women authors of fairy tales… discovered their power through the salons and through conceiving fairy tales that announced and pronounced their social views of civility.”
– Jack Zipes

But it wasn’t just in her writing that d’Aulnoy sought to empower women. She was also allegedly involved in two separate plots against the husband in an arranged marriage.

First, her own husband – to whom she was wed at fifteen – was accused of treason by d’Aulnoy’s mother and two men (who may have been her lovers). After spending three years in the Bastille, d’Aulnoy’s husband convinced the court of his innocence, and a warrant was served for d’Aulnoy’s arrest – but she escaped from officers through a window, hid in a church, and fled to England. Thirty years later, d’Aulnoy escaped persecution again despite her alleged involvement in retaliation against a friend’s abusive husband, who was shot and wounded by a servant.  

D’Aulnoy published twelve books, but where other fairy tale writers like Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm became household names, d’Aulnoy seems all but forgotten in the mainstream. Today her collected works are rarely published in new English-language editions, but rather in mixed anthologies. (Most recently, Black Coat Press released a two-volume collection of her fairy tales in 2019 and Princeton University Press published a new translated collection of her work in 2021.)

D’Aulnoy Editions was founded on the belief that everyone has a story to share. But it’s well known that throughout history, not everyone has had the access or privilege to share theirs. Our mission is to share a diversity of voices and stories – and not just give platform to them, but to contribute to the overall literary oeuvre, so more people have access to relevant stories that reflect their diverse backgrounds, interests, and cultures.

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