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Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy (1650/1651-January 14, 1705) was a French author who coined the term "Fairy Tales".

Madame d'Aulnoy's personal life is mysterious, but we do know that she wrote 24 literary fairy tales in her lifetime, which mix and match folk motifs from oral tradition with her own sensibilities. She was a key pioneer in the genre as we know it today — in fact, she was the one to give it the name "Fairy Tale" (or "Contes des Fees" in her native French).

Madame d'Aulnoy's works aren't as well known today as some of her contemporaries, but her influence is profound. Countless tropes inextricably linked with the modern images of fairy tales: The Power of Love, Beauty Equals Goodness, Fairy Godmothers and Fairy Devilmothers, even Prince Charming himself.

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Her tales can be read in this link.


D'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales with pages of their own on this site include:

Her works are in the public domain and can be found online here and in the Project Gutenberg.


Examples of tropes in d'Aulnoy's Contes des Fées:

  • Beast and Beauty: Many of her tales are in the "animal bridegroom" mold, where the love of a beautiful woman changes a creature into a handsome human husband. However, there are also a few transformed heroines in her tales, such as "The White Cat".
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: All of her heroes and heroines are astonishingly good-looking, and all her villains are hideously ugly. She plays with this idea slightly in "Green Serpent", a relative of "Beauty and the Beast" where a wicked fairy crashes a christening and curses the baby with ugliness, but it's reversed partway through the story.
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  • Bejeweled Tropes: D'Aulnoy gives detailed descriptions of all the pretty things that appear in her stories, creating a lush and luxurious fantasy world.
  • Eats Babies: The tribe of ogres featured in Madame d'Aulnoy's "The Bee and the Orange Tree" will eat their young if they do not sleep with their golden crowns. Aimée, the princess in the story, steals crowns from two young ogres to give to her and her prince—these two ogres end up getting eaten.
  • Evil Matriarch: "The Pigeon and the Dove": Constancio's mother is described as "the most wicked and vindictive princess in the world" and very much lives up to it. She threatens to kill her son's beloved Constancia in front of him, sends scorpions, toads, and snakes after her, sells Constancia into slavery, and even holds a mock funeral for her when Constancio believes that she is dead.
  • Fairy Godmother:
    • In "The Blue Bird" and "The White Doe", the fairy godmothers help rivals of the protagonists.
    • Several fairy godmothers, including an evil one, appear in "Princess Mayblossom".
    • "Finette Cendroun" is an early "Cinderella" variant that plays the fairy godmother trope straight however, and even predates Charles Perrault's use of the trope.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: In "Princess Mayblossom", the evil ambassador Fanfarinet tries to eat the titular princess after she refuses to share the food she was offered by the plants and animals on the Deserted Island they are stranded on (she had been specifically warned not to share any food). The princess responds by drawing her dagger and stabbing the ambassador in the eye - and does it so furiously that the ambassador immediately dies.
    "There, you ungrateful wretch!", she cried, "take this last favor from my hands, the one you have best deserved! Be an example to all false lovers in time to come; and may your faithless soul never rest in peace!"
  • The Grand Hunt: "The White Cat" features a scene where the eponymous cat and the Prince go on a hunt. The prince rides a wooden horse and the cat rides a monkey.
  • Love at First Sight: Double Subverted in The Princess Mayblossom. The cursed princess glimpses the ambassador for a king, falls madly in love with him, and elopes, only to discover he's a horrible person. When she is rescued, however, the ambassador's king had followed him, and she falls in love with him immediately and lives happily ever after.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Fairies of all stripes appear in her stories, of varying moral allegiances. Some are beautiful and generous benefactors, others are wicked and cast curses, and others seem to work according to their own fairy-logic independent of human morals.
  • Prince Charming: She was the first to actually give this name to the male lead of her story, with Roi Charmont (literally, "King Charming") as the hero of "The Blue Bird".
  • The Power of Love: A recurring theme in her stories.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In "Princess Rosette", the fairies (reluctantly) predict that the princess will cause grave danger, or even death, to her older brothers. So her parents lock her in a tower. When they die, her brothers immediately free her. She learns that people eat peacocks and, in her innocence, resolves to marry the King of the Peacocks. Her loving brothers try to bring this about and end up in grave danger (though they do survive).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In "The Benevolent Frog", the Lion Fairy does not appear again after her encounter with the king when she imprisons his wife and daughter in the castle.
    • In "The Bee and the Orange Tree", when Aimée stings Tourmentine, the ogress and her husband disappear from the story.

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