Ondine was the familiar name of Marceline Junie Hyacinthe Lanchantin who was born in Lyon,
daughter of François Prosper Lanchantin, known as Valmore, and the poet Marceline
Desbordes-Valmore. Henry Hyacinthe de Latouche may, however, have been her true father.
She was one of four children but her two sisters, Junie and Inès both died in childhood. She
was, herself, a frail child, who, from the age of twelve, suffered severe respiratory ill
health that continued, uncured, throughout most of her life despite Marceline, her mother,
having taken her to London for treatment but which had proved ineffectual.
Around age twenty, she incurred severe breathing problems over a period of two years
followed by weak health for her remaining life much of which was spent in sanatoria.
She was, however, precocious, particularly gifted in literature and languages, notably Latin
and English from which she translated some works of Shakespeare into French; and she became
an inspector of schools for girls in the department of Seine.
Although she was an emancipated woman who preferred a single life, her mother, Marceline,
arranged a marriage, in 1851, with Jacques Langlais, an advocate and deputy in Mamers, Pays
de la Loire. She bore a son in the following year but suffered extensive and lingering ill
health until her death from tuberculosis in 1853.
Ondine published several collections of poetry containing themes of life and death symbolised
by frequent references to autumn and winter; and in which, conscious of her poor health,
she expressed the joys of the moment and the brevity thereof.