Pictured left to right: Heidi Hutner, Sophie Raynard-Leroy, & Kristina Lucenko
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When one talks about classic European fairy tales one immediately thinks of Charles Perrault, the Grimm Brothers, and Hans Christian Andersen, that male trio from whom our basic knowledge of fairy tales originates and whose versions of the stories served as models for the modern Disney productions. But what about the constellation of women storytellers who gravitated around them and helped them revive that forgotten or lesser-praised literary genre? In France at the end of the 17th century the genre dramatically expanded thanks to the works of women such as the French conteuses: Madame d’Aulnoy, Madame de Murat, Mlle de La Force, etc., who wrote two thirds of the tales published during that time, hence creating a dazzling fairy-tale vogue from which only Perrault has passed the test of time in the large public. That vogue had some resurgences in the 18th century with further female storytellers inspiring each other, two of whom: Mme de Villeneuve and Mme Leprince de Beaumont, having brought to us the tale of “The Beauty and the Beast” as we now know it today. As part of celebrating Women’s History Month, this paper will present Perrault’s female counterparts and their significant contribution to the sophistication and the modernization of the fairy tale in 17th- and 18th-century France.