La Vie Creative

EP 195: Paris History Avec a Hemingway (Comtesse de Ségur )

March 07, 2022 Krystal Kenney Episode 195
La Vie Creative
EP 195: Paris History Avec a Hemingway (Comtesse de Ségur )
Show Notes

In France children since the 19th century grew up with the stories of Comtesse de Ségur. The tales of Sophie the impish little girl always getting into trouble and trying to learn from her mistakes still shape generations.

Living at the Chateau des Nouettes in Normandy, a gift from her father as her children grew up and left to have their own families. In 1849, at 50 years old Sophie began to write stories for her grandchildren. Each of the stories had a moral and were not always filled with rainbows and butterflies. She used the names of her children and grandchildren in the stories but her most popular was based on her life and shared her name. 

Growing up her mother was horrible. She was often locked in a room for days at a time without any food or water. In public she would be hit and ridiculed and all of that stayed with her and came out on the pages of her stories. 

At first they were just for her family but they were quickly shared with others. Her husband was not the president of the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de l’Est rail company. Friends with Louis Hachette who also started the very first publishing company in France, he read the stories and wanted to publish them.  Hachette also had a big idea of setting up a newsstand in the Gare de Lyon, the first of its kind in 1852. That little newsstand turned into Relay which is found on four continents and over 1600 train & metro stations, hospitals and airports. 

Hachette published her “new fairy tales” as she named them and sold them in his series of the Pink Library for children ages 6 to 12 that are still published today.  Sophie’s deal with Hachette named her as the author and allowed her the copyright and royalties from all sales, unheard of for a woman at the time and in the following decades. 

Today you can find a bust of the Comtesses de Ségur in the western corner of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Created by Jean Boucher, it was inaugurated in this spot in 1910. 

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