Gabrielle Reval was the literary pseudonym of Gabrielle Logerot, later Gabrielle Fleuret ( 1870-1938). 1 Logerot was one of the first graduates (class of 1890) of the Ecole normale supérieure for women founded at Sèvres in 1882, the training ground for women of the intellectual elite during the belle époque. 2 Logerot passed her agrégation in 1893 and taught at the lycée ( secular high school) for girls at Niort until 1899. She wrote for several newspapers (notably L'Oeuvre and Le Journal), lectured all over Europe, and married the poet Fernand Fleuret. It is as the novelist Gabrielle Reval, however, that she became famous. Her novels earned her a variety of honors, including the Legion of Honor, the Prix du Président de la République ( 1934), and the Portugese Order of Santiago de l'Epée ( 1935). She also shaped women's writing as a member of the jury for the Fémina Prize.
As one of the first generation of Sévriennes, Reval concerned herself in her early novels with what must have been her own experience-that of young women struggling to pass competitive examinations and then going out to teach in the Third Republic's new secular schools for girls. She depicts the conflict between love and career, and she writes about the tremendous pressures that weighed on the pioneer women teachers in provincial France. These pressures chiefly came from the townspeople, who often refused to lodge teachers, watched them like hawks, and expected them to live as secular nuns; other pressures came from the injustices of operating within a school system created by, identified with, and led by men. 3 Reval's teachers were seen as subverters of tradition and the status quo, both of which the convent school protected-which is precisely what republican politicans had intended them to be.