Genealogie van Hendrika de la HOUSSAIJE



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De la Houssaije en De la Houssaye


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Sidonie de la Houssaye

Sidonie de la Houssaye (1820-1894)

Sidonie de la Houssaye was born in 1820 to a rich Creole family of both French and German descent that had played an important role in colonial Louisiana. As a girl, she was tutored by a French governess who instilled in her a love for the French language and its literature. At fourteen she married Pelletier de la Houssaye and settled down in Saint Martinville, a town that was nicknamed "Louisiana's little Paris". Since the late Eighteenth Century, St. Martinville had served as a refuge for French noblemen seeking to escape from the guillotine. Sidonie de la Houssaye gave birth to fourteen children of whom only three survived. She and her family moved to Franklin, Louisiana in 1841 and soon faced serious financial problems. These difficulties became worse when in 1863 Raymond Pelletier de la Houssaye died and Sidonie de la Houssaye undertook the task of raising and educating her children by herself. She began to earn money for her struggling family by teaching her neighbors’ children along with her own. She opened a school for girls in 1849, reopened it after the Civil War in 1867, and opened another school, with the help of a Miss Wallis, in 1882. Her daughter, Lilia, died in 1875, leaving her eight small children in the care of their grandmother. It was during this period that Mme de la Houssaye began to publish serial stories and various other literary works in newspapers like L’Abeille, her main goal being to meet her family's financial needs. Her texts were written in French and some of them were later translated into English by her grandchildren. She also wrote many stories for her grandchildren, most of which have never been published. Mme de la Houssaye found, in a diary written by her grandmother that she discovered in her attic, much of the material she used in writing her short fiction. The well-known writer George Washington Cable soon bought the rights to de la Houssaye’s work and borrowed from her grandmother’s diary in search of material for Strange True Stories of Louisiana (1889) and perhaps also for Old Creole Days (1879) and The Grandissimes, A Story of Creole Life (1880). In "How I got them," the introduction to this book, Cable briefly alluded to Mme de la Houssaye. The manuscripts borrowed or bought by Cable from de la Houssaye were photographed for Cable's text Strange True Stories of Louisiana. In 1878, Sidonie de la Houssaye began Les Quarteronnes de la Nouvelle-Orléans, seen here in both manuscript and published forms. These texts were published in the newspaper Le Méschacébé, but their subject matter was so controversial that the author signed them with her nom de plume, Louise Raymond. The stories were centered around the legendary beautiful women of mixed blood in New Orleans, known for arousing guilty passions in the men of high society. In 1890 L'Athénée louisianais awarded Mme de la Houssaye a gold medal for her active contribution to the promotion of the French language in Louisiana. She died in 1894, at seventy-four. Being in-step with the particular rhythm of Louisiana, punctuated as it was by upheavals and other historical troubles, Sidonie de la Houssaye was a privileged witness to the century. She saw creole life take shape on the plantation and in the Antebellum slave society, endure the Civil War and Reconstruction, and reemerge as the tenacious Creoles tried to preserve their unique culture.

See: Edward Larocque Tinker. Les écrits de langue française en Louisiane au XIXème siècle. Essais biographique et bibliographique. (Paris: H. Champion, 1932).



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sinds 1995