Écrits clandestins de Sainte-Hélène

Author(s) : BRANDA Pierre (éd. et annot.), NAPOLÉON IER
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In 1817 and 1818, Napoleon published three works in London in order to mobilise public opinion for his return to Europe, a return he believed in until March 1819, when he learned of the fateful decision of the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (29 Sept.-21 Nov. 1818) to keep him in exile on St Helena. Pierre Branda details this extraordinary “literary breakout” in his presentation and comments on these three somewhat forgotten texts. (Irène Delage, May 2021)

Read here the interview of Pierre Branda on napoleon.org: thanks to his clandestine writings “instead of being forgotten as the British government had hoped, the emperor Napoleon was still being talked about” in Europe.

Écrits clandestins de Sainte-Hélène

From the publishers
The most heavily guarded prisoner in history managed the incredible feat of publishing three manuscripts anonymously in England, making a fool of his jailers in the most sophisticated way.
1816. In London, Dr Warden, surgeon on the ship that took the Emperor to St Helena, published letters about his alleged conversations with the Emperor. Great success. Napoleon immediately understood the advantage he could derive from this. In 1817-1818, he clandestinely wrote and published three successive writings in English – the Letters from the Cape of Good Hope, the Lettres d’un capitaine de Storeship, and finally the Manuscrit de l’île d’Elbe – with the same London publisher, under the noses of Governor Hudson Lowe and the British cabinet, who never knew by what means these texts had reached England. The echo was resounding, but the name of the real author was never discovered before his death in 1821.
Changing his style from one book to the next, Napoleon deals successively with episodes of his epic life, the conditions of his imprisonment and the imprescriptible nature of imperial legitimacy, and reveals his exceptional genius for communication on the only battlefield left to him, that of opinion. He emerged victorious one last time. These largely forgotten texts are brought back to life and significance by Pierre Branda’s edition in this new volume of the Bibliothèque de Sainte-Hélène [“The St Helena Library”], founded and directed by Thierry Lentz.

About the author: Head of the Heritage Department of the Fondation Napoléon, Pierre Branda is the author of numerous works on the Emperor, including, published by Perrin, La Saga des Bonaparte, La Guerre secrète de Napoléon. Île d’Elbe 1814-1815 and Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène.

Read an extract from the book, on the publisher’s website (in French).

► The other titles in the series “La Bibliothèque de Sainte-Hélène” are:

Volume 1. Le Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène. Le manuscrit retrouvé, Text established, presented and commented by Thierry Lentz, Peter Hicks, François Houdecek, Chantal Prévot;
Volume 2. Journal de Sainte-Hélène, version intégrale par le général Gaspard Gourgaud, Text established, presented and commented by Jacques Macé;
Volume 3.“Général Buonaparte, notre voisin”: Témoignages anglais sur Napoléon prisonnier (1815-1821)texts prepared, presented and commented by Peter Hicks, to be published in 2022;
Volume 4. Cahiers de Sainte-Hélène. Les 500 derniers jours (1820-1821), by General Henri Gatien Bertrand, Text established, presented and commented by François Houdecek.

This books bears the logo “2021 Année Napoléon”.



Year of publication :
Place and publisher :
Paris, Perrin, coll. La Bibliothèque de Sainte-Hélène
Number of pages :
298 p.
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