When we think of tellers and recorders of fairy tales, our mind naturally turns to Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault or, of course, the Grimm Brothers. And yet, the 17th century French writer who actually coined the term ‘conte de fee’, or fairytale, when she published her major collection of them in 1697 goes largely unremembered - sidelined perhaps because of her gender at a time when such prominence amongst women was sadly much more rare.

That writer, who compiled the original collection in the French language, was Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, known more colloquially as Madame d’Aulnoy. Her work is not often found in English-language volumes, but is rather sidelined to one or two translated stories being put into anthologies alongside other writers.

But in April of this year, Princetown University Press released a new English collection of Madame d’Aulnoy’s tales, beautifully visualised by Natalie Frank and translated by the eminent Professor Jack Zipes. The book, called The Island of Happiness features a new translation of The Tale of Mira, one of d’Aulnoy’s earlier stories in which the beautiful protagonist kills any man who falls in love with her, before herself falling for a man who is indifferent to her.

In this episode of The Folklore Podcast, guest interviewer Hilary Wilson speaks to the eminent Professor Jack Zipes, translator of D'Aulnoy's works and expert on the literary fairy tale. on the life of Madame D'Aulnoy.

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