The Formative Years
A number of facts concerning Bernardin's life are not in dispute. He was born in Le Havre, Normandy, on 19 January 1737; his father was Nicolas de Saint-Pierre, and his mother was Mlle Godebout. It is clear that Bernardin's father had noble pretensions, claiming to be descended from the fourteenth-century figure Eustache de Saint-Pierre - a myth that Bernardin heard recounted when he was a child. Aime-Martin's account of Bernardin's early life is difficult to challenge, mostly because there is so little evidence to which to refer. Given the close working relationship between Bernardin and his secretary, it must be a fair assumption that during the course of their discussions Bernardin would talk about his youth, as people do, especially when they arrive at a certain stage in life. In the same manuscript, and in a section used by Aime-Martin in his account of Bernardin's life, Bernardin describes the various texts and authors that were to influence him.