Marie Souvestre was a free-thinking feminist, daughter of the French author and philosopher Emile Souvestre
. Her school, Les Ruches, was widely admired for its academic rigour. It educated many outstanding women, including Beatrice Chamberlain
wrote candidly about the influences on her novel. In her introduction to it she states that the story has been written to please myself, without thought of my own vanity or modesty, without regard...