Élisa Schlésinger

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Élisa Schlésinger with her daughter, unmarked lithograph, around 1838

Caroline-Élisa-Augustine Schlésinger , b. Foucoult de la Motte (born September 23, 1810 in Vernon , Normandy , †  September 12, 1888 in Achern ) was the wife of the publisher Maurice Schlésinger and the great love of the writer Gustave Flaubert .


At the age of 19 she married the lieutenant Émile-Jacques Judée (born March 14, 1796 in Issoudun ; † November 1, 1839 in Africa). Around 1832 she met the German-Jewish publisher Maurice Schlesinger , who had achieved a great reputation in Paris , and became his lover. A few years later she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter named Marie-Julie-Adèle-Monica, to whom Judée assumed paternity on April 19, 1836, although the child was probably conceived by Schlésinger. In 1840, now widowed, she married Schlésinger. On January 1, 1842, she gave birth to a second child, the boy Adolphe Maurice Schlésinger.

She later lived with her husband in Baden-Baden and from 1862 in the Illenau insane asylum in Achern.

Gustave Flaubert

The first meeting with Flaubert took place in Trouville-sur-Mer in the summer of 1836 , when Flaubert was only 15 years old, Élise 26. At that time she was already known as “Madame Schlésinger”, although she was still married to Judée. For Flaubert, Élisa became the great love of his life.

It is particularly important for his last completed novel, The Education of Emotions , which appeared in print in 1869. It is about the unfulfilled love of the protagonist Frédéric Moreau for the married Marie Arnoux, the wife of the art dealer Jacques Arnoux, for whom Élise Schlésinger and her husband were the models.


  • Emile Gérard-Gailly: Le grand amour de Flaubert , Aubier 1944
  • Frederick Brown: Flaubert: a biography , Harvard University Press 2007

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