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CHARLES PERRAULT

1628-1703
French

"For you know that I myself am a labyrinth,
where one easily gets lost."

Charles Perrault was born on 12 January 1628, in Paris, to a wealthy bourgeois family. Charles attended the best schools and studied law before embarking on a career in government service.

Perrault took part in the creation of the Academy of Sciences as well as the restoration of the Academy of Painting. When the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres was founded in 1663, Perrault was appointed its secretary and served under Jean Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to King Louis XIV.

He married Marie Guichon, age 19, in 1672, but she died in 1678 after giving birth to a daughter. The couple also had three sons. As a writer, Perrault had received a pension from the state, but this ceased when Colbert died in 1683.

In 1695, when he was 67, he lost his post as secretary, and decided to dedicate himself to his children. In 1697 he published Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals, subtitled Tales of Mother Goose. Its publication made him suddenly widely-known beyond his own circles and marked the beginnings of a new literary genre, the fairy tale.  In the Fairy Tales, he used images from around him, such as the Chateau Ussé for Sleeping Beauty and in Puss-in-Boots, the Marquis of the Château d'Oiron, and contrasted his folktale subject matter, with details and asides and subtext drawn from the world of fashion. He died in Paris in 1703 at age 75.