Place and Imprint: London: Printed for J. Mawman, J. Ridgeway, J. Clarke, B. Crosby, and Constable, 1810.
Edition: First and only edition.
Bibliographical References: Not in Robinson, Wayward Women; but see Colbert, Women's Travel Writing, 1780-1840, and the ODNB.
Condition: Edges rubbed; margins of the endpapers browned from the leather turn-ins; map with a few tears at the folds, but complete; front free endpaper creased in volume one; very good copy.
Book ID: 28700
Physical Description3 vols, 8vo, modern brown quarter calf, contemporary marbled paper boards, red morocco spine labels, gilt rules and lettering. Large folding map. With half-titles, publisher's advertisements and errata.
CommentsIn 1802 novelist and translator Anne Plumptre (1760-1818) traveled to France with her friend Amelia Opie for an extended sojourn to observe firsthand post-revolutionary France, and her account of those travels is a remarkable work of journalism about the culture, society and politics of a country then often at odds with her home country. Elinor Shaffer writes in the ODNB that “A Narrative of a Three Years' Residence is a substantial work and a serious political enquiry, from the point of view of a first-hand witness, into Napoleon's reign and the attitudes of the French people towards it. It examines the rumours and assumptions circulating in England during the war with France, and attempts to put them right by personal observation and cool assessment of the facts. She deliberately went to the provinces, as offering a truer picture than most recent travellers' experiences, often limited to Paris. She examines specific allegations about Napoleon's ‘atrocities’ and finds them unproven. She also scrutinizes the attitudes of the people towards his government, and finds 'speech everywhere in France as free as in England'. She draws a firm political conclusion: the emperor is not such a monster as he is painted, his people by and large support him, and he should be accepted by the British and the rest of Europe as a legitimate ruler. She advocated an initiative of making peace with Napoleon. Her views did not find favour in Britain, but this book is a serious and neglected contribution to the absorbing and variegated literature on Napoleon by writers across Europe.” The handsome folding map is entitled: "A Complete Map of the French Empire with the Post Roads, as it stood, at the commencement of the Year 1805." A later owner affixed an 1817 engraved portrait of Plumptre to the blank verso of the final page of the preface. 20th century ink signature on the front free endpaper of volume one.