May 16, 1703: Charles Perrault dies in Paris.
Many people don’t recognize the name, but almost everyone knows his work. Perrault wrote stories based upon popular folk tales, many of which mesmerize children (and grownups) to this day.
Perrault studied law and worked in academics and government. He advised Louis XIV about building the now-famous fountains at Versailles. He supported a new musical form called “Opera” and was one of its earliest proponents.
At the age of 67, Perrault lost his public position and decided to spend his newly vacant hours writing a book for his children. He titled it Stories of the Past (With Morals), but history remembers it best for its subtitle:
Tales of Mother Goose.
The Mother Goose stories made Perrault famous and pioneered a new genre – the fairy tale. Many of Perrault’s stories were re-told or re-imagined by others, including the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Among the most famous? Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding-Hood, Puss in Boots, and Cinderella.
Perrault’s name has faded but his tales still inspire us. He recognized the beauty in legend, the strength in unique characters, and the power of good – and evil – to influence both the reader and the tale. That’s why his stories last, and why they’re still enjoyable today.
Let the reader and writer take note. “Good” beats “complicated” every time.