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Sidonie de la Houssaye was born Hélène Perret on August 17, 1820, and raised on Bellevue Plantation near Franklin, Louisiana. She was primarily self-educated with only a few months of formal schooling at a nearby convent. De la Houssaye began a school in the Franklin area and also worked as the postmistress. She wrote stories and poetry for her eight grandchildren whom she raised after her daughter died young.
De la Houssaye wrote short stories and novelettes set primarily in St. Mary and St. Martin parishes, areas between Lafayette and New Orleans, about plantation life, manners of the Creoles and their attitudes toward Acadians and Americans. The stories are of interest for their rendition of Cajun and Negro French dialects. The story plots are simple, designed to appeal to plantation women and convent educated girls. She also wrote morality tales for the education and character training of her eight grandchildren. She wrote in French only to encourage her grandchildren to maintain the dialect and be cognizant of their Creole heritage.
De la Houssaye sold at least three of her stories to the popular American author and New Orleans native George Washington Cable for his book, Strange True Stories of Louisiana. Letters from de la Houssaye to Cable during their six year correspondence are available in the George Washington Cable Papers at Tulane University.
Although not widely celebrated during her lifetime, Sidonie de la Houssaye was later recognized as a Louisiana French writer of distinction in Les Ecrits de Langue Francaise en Louisiana au XIX Siècle. Her works have been the subject of two dissertations completed at LSU, "A Critical Study of the Life and Writings of Sidonie de la Houssaye with Special Emphasis on the Unpublished Works (1966)" by Joseph John Perret and "Liminality in Gender, Race, and Nation in Les Quarteronnes de la Nouvelle-Orléans by Sidonie de la Houssaye (2006)" by Christine Koch Harris.
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