Literature on the Age of Napoleon Website

Napoleonic Memoirs

The Napoleonic Era produced numerous memoirs written by kings, statesmen, soldiers and courtesans. While each memoir provides a glimpse into the past, daily life as well as political climate, they are not all equal in terms of validity. Many memoirs prove very useful to Napoleonic historians, however some memoirs were written to clear the writers of any wrong doing, to establish the writer in the new political establishment, or even to merely embellish their own roles in history. After the death of Napoleon, the publication of Mémorial de Sainte Hélène by the Count de Las Cases in 1823 sparked a new interest in the Empire. While the principal figures of the Empire were not willing to publish their memoirs at this early stage in the Restoration, publishers were keen to provide the growing public interest with tales of the Empire. Writers such as Lamothe-Langon and Villemarest were hired to assist writing memoirs and even fabricate memoirs from scratch, such as Lamothe-Langon's Mémoires et souvenirs d'une femme de qualité sous le Consulat et l'Empire, published in 1830.

It is important to keep in mind the original publication date of Napoleonic memoirs. A changing tide of pro or anti-Napoleon sentiments throughout the nineteenth century dictated the type of memoirs published. With the fall of the Second Empire more anti-Napoleon memoirs were published, however, by the 1880's the sentiment turned once again in favor of Napoleon, encouraging the publication of a large number of Napoleonic memoirs. For more specific information regarding memoirs published in French, see Jean Tulard's Nouvelle Bibliographie Critique des Mémoires su l'Epoque Napoléonienne écrits ou traduits en français (Genève, 1991). For more specific information regarding British military memoirs, see Robert Burnham's article British Memoirs of the Napoleonic Wars at the Napoleon Series site.

The Memoirs, Diaries and Correspondence bibliographies on this site are by no means a complete listing for the Napoleonic Era, and I have not attempted to list every edition of a particular title, nor list all the translations of a given title. I have tried to list the first edition, with publication date and location of a memoir when available. If you are aware of any memoirs, diaries or correspondence that should be included within this listing, please notify me.

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