Known as Madame de Villedieu, Marie-Catherine Desjardins (ca. 1640-83) was a prolific writer who played an important role in the evolution of the early modern French novel. One of the earliest women to write for a living, she defied cultural convention by becoming an innovator and appealing to popular tastes through fiction, drama, and poetry.
Memoirs of the Life of Henriette-Sylvie de Molière, a semi autobiographical novel, portrays an enterprising woman who writes the story of her life, a complex tale that runs counter to social expectations and novelistic conventions. A striking work, the story skillfully mixes real events from the author’s life with fictional adventures. At a time when few women published, Villedieu’s Memoirs is a significant achievement in creating a voice for the early modern woman writer. Produced while the French novel form was still in its infancy, it should be welcomed by any scholar of women’s writing or the early development of the novel.