In many respects, there would seem to be little common ground for discussing the memoirs of Hortense and Marie Mancini with the spiritual outpourings of the three writers we have been studying. When Hortense and Marie Mancini are given a place in the history books it is under the category of Royal Mistress, and the celebrity they gained in their own lifetime came from their flamboyant neglect of the prescribed norms of virtuous conduct. But all of the women we are studying here undertook, for different reasons, the unusual step of presenting their lives to a public in the form of a written autobiography. With the single exception of the memoirs of Marguerite de Valois, published in the sixteenth century, the memoirs of Hortense and Marie Mancini, published in 1675 and 1677, are the first instances in France of women putting their life stories into print. 1 Their editors were male acquaintances who collaborated with them to circulate their writing; we might call them their 'literary' rather than 'spiritual' directors. All of these women lived for a time in convents. The space of the convent represented for all of them a paradoxical combination of refuge and intolerable restraint. All of them moved toward authorship first through letter writing, in an age when the letter was the single written form which women were encouraged to cultivate and at which they were expected to "naturally" excel. All of them traveled, too, and their voyages - both spiritual and physical-are invoked in their memoirs as compelling metaphors for both self-discovery and the entry into the world of writing, carrying particular meaning for women. Jeanne Guyon and Marie de 1 'Incarnation, like many of the women who influenced the development of Counter-Reformation devotional practices, launched their careers as writers and mystics only after being "freed" from their families by widowhood. Marie de Chantal, like her granddaughter in the secular sphere Marie de Sevigne, rediscovered and refashioned herself through writing after being widowed.