Virginie Sampeur

Biography

(Port-au-Prince, 1839-1919)

Virginie Sampeur began publishing in literary reviews at the age of seventeen (Morpeau 88). A teacher, she married poet Oswald Durand in 1862, a marriage that would end in divorce nine years later, allegedly because of her husband’s infidelity (Martelly et Petit Frère). “L’Abandonnée” was anthologized by Selve in 1876 (211-212) and much reviewed in France where she travelled for the first time in 1876 (Morpeau 88; Berrou 498). A second marriage, to Louis Tacite Lamothe, would prove happier, resulting in the 1882 birth of Ludovic Lamothe, known as “the Black Chopin” because of his virtuosity as a pianist and composer (Martelly et Petit Frère). Sampeur would continue to teach and then to direct the Pensionnat National de Demoiselles de Port-au-Prince. Few poems, records, and no photographs are currently known to exist, presumably because she is said to have burned her papers after her divorce from Oswald Durand (Martelly et Petit Frère).

The poetry of Virginie Sampeur, commonly identified as Haiti’s first woman poet, was read and appreciated in both Haiti and in France, where journalists called her a “sensation” and a “muse noire” (Le Figaro, 29 Feb. 1888) whose poems impressed and influenced French contemporaries such as Anna de Noailles (Toucas-Massillon 503). Her poems were regularly anthologized in the French press and in Haitian anthologies until her death in 1919.

Biography by Elizabeth Emery, 2022

Bibliography

Berrou Raphaël, and Pradel Pompilus. Histoire de la littérature haïtienne illustrée par les textes. Ed. Caraïbes, 1975.

La Selve, Edgar. Histoire de la littérature haïtienne, depuis ses origines jusqu'à nos jours. Cerf, 1875.

Martelly, Stéphane et Dieulermesson Petit Frère. "Dossier Virginie Sampeur." Web site Ile en Ile, 2021

Anthologie d'un siècle de poésie haïtienne 1817-1925. Bossard, 1924.

Le Monde artistique. 12 Aug. 1911, pp. 501-502.

Poem

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2022
Saturday, January 1st
12:00 AM

L’Abandonnée / The Abandoned Woman

Virginie Sampeur

Translation: Ann-Ysabelle Flynn