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Short biography
Stéphanie-Félicité Ducrest de Saint-Aubin was born at the château of Champcéry, near Autun in Burgundy, into a noble but impoverished family. In 1736, she married Charles-Alexis Brulart de Genlis, comte de Genlis and marquis de Sillery. Madame de Genlis was self-taught and loved music, learning to play many instruments, becoming a virtuoso on the harp. She also became a prolific writer. She wrote four volumes of short plays and more than 100 historical romances and other works for both children and adults. She was appointed lady-in-waiting to the duchesse de Chartres, whose husband Philippe Égalité, later duc d’Orleans, became Stephanie’s lover. Her adopted daughter Pamela Sims (Syms) is believed by many to have been her biological child with Philippe Égalité. Madame de Genlis served as the childhood governess of the Chartres children, the future King Louis-Philippe and his siblings. Her husband was killed in the French Revolution in 1793, and she fled the country, taking refuge for a time in Switzerland. Her work Precis de la conduite de Mme de Genlis depuis la Revolution (Summary of the Conduct of Madame de Genlis since the Revolution, 1796), was produced to appease the Revolutionary authorities, who were suspicious of her. She was permitted to return to France in 1800, and presided over a well-known Parisian salon. The emperor Napoleon admired her work and appointed her director of primary schools in Paris. She received a pension from Napoleon and some believe she acted as a spy for him. In her later years, Madame de Genlis produced her memoirs in 10 volumes.
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