Des Roches, Madeleine
(1520-1587), and Catherine (1542-1587)
   French poets, mother and daughter. Madeleine from her youth showed an interest in literature, and she transmitted it to her daughter. From about 1570 they became active as writers. Their careers developed together, and the closeness is symbolized by their death on the same day during an epidemic. Madeleine Neveu was born near Châtellerault into a family of judicial officials (gens de robe) and married twice, first to a legal procurator named André Fradonnet about 1539 at Poitiers and, after his death in 1547, to another French legal official, François Eboissard, seigneur de la Villée et des Roches. Catherine was a child of the first marriage but took her stepfather's surname.
   From about 1570 mother and daughter held a literary salon at Poitiers and developed reputations as poets. Their friends included a prominent kinsman, Scévole de Sainte-Marthe, the great French humanist Josephus Justus Scaliger, and the poet Pierre de Ronsard. The residence of the royal court in Poitiers in 1577 and the national assembly of legal officers (Grands Jours) there in 1579 spread their literary reputation to other parts of France. Their first collection of poetry, Les oeuvres de Mesdames des Roche, mère et fille, was published in 1578, shortly after the death of Madeleine's second husband; a second edition appeared in 1579. Another collection, Secondes oeuvres, appeared in 1585, followed the next year by Missives de Mesdames Desroches, in which they published not only poems but also literary letters. Madeleine's poems are full of sadness and demonstrate that she sought consolation in religion and Platonic philosophy. Catherine's poems are more moralizing and didactic. Catherine never married but devoted her life to her literary work and her close companionship with her mother.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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