La Vieille Fille (The Old Maid or An Old Maid) is a novel by the French writer Honoré de Balzac. Written in 1836, it was first published as a serial in La Presse, then published by Edmond Werdet in 1837 in Études de mœurs, in the section les Scènes de la vie de province. La Vieille Fille was republished in 1839 by éditions Charpentier, before being published alongside le Cabinet des Antiques in the isolated les Rivalités group within Scènes de la vie de province in la Comédie humaine, published in 1844 by édition Furne.
The work was dedicated to Balzac's brother in law, an engineer in the corps royal des ponts et chaussées, Eugène Midy de la Greneraye Surville. Even so, Balzac offered its manuscript to comtesse Guidoboni-Visconti, in 1844.
This short and incisive novel stands out for the density of its story and its rapid succession of events. Balzac takes time to carefully describe the house of Mademoiselle Cormon, the old maid, in the city of Alençon, before entering directly into the heart of the matter.
The portrait of Mademoiselle Cormon is one of the most successful in The Human Comedy. Balzac delivers in this novel one of his most nuanced analysis of a provincial town's social, political and financial affairs.