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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?1551570">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

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Louise Labé, born Louise Charly, is today considered one of the most brilliant and sensuous women poets. The daughter of a prosperous Lyon cordier or rope merchant, Louise was well educated, perhaps in a convent school. She studied Latin, Spanish, Italian, and musicianship, and also learned to ride and fence. Legend has it that she dressed in male clothing and fought on horseback at the siege of Perpignan, or in a tournament there, beside the future King Henri II. She married a much older man, another rope merchant named Ennemond Perrin. She was a member of the 16th-century Lyon school of humanist poets, and was noted for her wit, charm, and accomplishments. Her poetic works enjoyed considerable success in her own time. Her nickname was La Belle Cordière ("The Beautiful Rope Maker").
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