Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne was born into a wealthy family of the minor nobility. She became a maid-of-honor to Queen Anne of Austria and began her literary education at the French Court and in the salons of Paris. In 1655, she married François Motier, comte de La Fayette, and the couple had two children. She formed her own successful salon and a close friendship with La Rochefoucauld, who introduced her to many literary celebrities of the time. Among her famous acquaintances was Princess Henrietta of England, the future duchesse d'Orleans, who asked Madame de La Fayette to write her biography. Madame de La Fayette published many of her works anonymously, including her most famous novel, La Princesse de Clèves, which appeared in 1678. It is considered the first true French novel and a prototype of the early psychological novel.