Once upon a time.... Adrienne Segur
I was going to the home of Adrienne Segur, who is magical, a fairy. I was welcomed by an imperial cat and brightly colored birds. All the animals in "Il etait une fois" [The Fairy Tale Book -- XA] perched in the far corners of the house. What did the fairy say to me? "I go to the land of fairies to avoid myself. The child talks to animals and the animals talk to him, it's totally natural. My animals talk to me with their eyes, their paws, their snouts." (Figaro Litteraire, 1952)
Adrienne Segur had not always been the mysterious woman that no one, or nearly no one, knew anything about. Her talent as an illustrator, skillfully made known by the publishing house Flammarion throughout the 1950s and 1960s, fascinated her contemporaries. The influence of her work is still seen today among numerous French amateur illustrators of children's stories, but even more so by passionate Anglo-Saxon amateurs.
The Lives of Adrienne Segur
Adrienne Segur was born in Grece, in Athens, on 23 November 1901. She was the daughter of French writer Nicolas Segur (a friend of Anatole France) and the Greek Kakia Anastase Diomede Kyriakos. Adrienne married the Egyptian poet and thinker Mounir Hafez around 1932. It was he who announced that her death had occurred on 11 August 1981 at Plessis-Robinson 133, Avenue de la Resistance. She had by that time retired, and lived officially in Paris in the sixth arrondissement, at 115, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. She had stopped drawing a short time before the publication of The Legend of Venise in 1973. Arthritis no longer permitted her to work.
Rumors circulate still about her today: She was believed to have been a distant descendant of the Comtesse de Segur [a link which has not been substantiated --XA]. It is, it's true, an uncanny coincidence for a woman who dedicated her live to stories for children.
A clearly elegant woman, even worldly, and probably celebrated for her great beauty, Adrienne Segur married a man more than ten years younger than herself and who "by his personal itinerary had been in contact with noted personalities in the 20th century in the fields of contemporary thought and art, in science, and in spirituality. Assistant to Henry Michaux, Mounir Hafez was friend to Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin, Georges Bataille, Cioran, Blanchot,..." Until 1952, he spent his summers in Paris and his winters in Cairo until 1952.