Publisher: London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1790.
Edition: First edition.
Bibliographical References: ESTC T91663; Colbert; ODNB; NCBEL II, 693.
Condition: Edges a little rubbed; a fine copy.
Book ID: 28317
Description12mo, contemporary tree calf, red morocco spine label, gilt decorations and lettering.
CommentsIn 1790 poet Helen Maria Williams (1761-1827) traveled to France for five months to observe first-hand and write about the budding French Revolution that had inspired so many English liberals. Letters Written in France was published shortly after her return, and just weeks following Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. Williams was an enthusiastic eyewitness in her guide through the Revolution and provided a perspective opposite of Burke’s. She arrived on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and was present at the massive celebration at Champs de Mars. She attended meetings of the National Assembly; she met with Madame de Genlis and other literary figures; and she reports on the role of women in the Revolution. With Letters Written in France, Williams became a political commentator. The critical reception was generally positive, except in conservative circles and by her own publisher, Thomas Cadell. A year later Williams returned to France to write an updated account of events there, but the cautious Cadell wanted no more of positive spins on revolutionary politics and turned it down. G. G. & J. Robinson published the subsequent installments beginning in 1792. Ink signature of Eliza Fielde dated 1836 on the title-page.