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  • L’Ombre immortelle de Catherine II au tombeau d’Alexandre Ier. by LE NORMAND, Marie-Anne Adélaïde. LE NORMAND, Marie-Anne Adélaïde. ~ L’Ombre immortelle de Catherine II au tombeau d’Alexandre Ier. Paris: Mlle Le Normand, auteur-éditeur,... Dondey-Dupré père et fils,... et chez les principaux libraires de la France et de l’étranger, 1 Février 1826
    First edition of Le Normand’s panegyric for Alexander I and her prophecies for the state of Russia following the Emperor’s death in 1825. Marie-Anne Lenormand… (more)

    First edition of Le Normand’s panegyric for Alexander I and her prophecies for the state of Russia following the Emperor’s death in 1825. Marie-Anne Lenormand (1772–1843) was a celebrated (or notorious) clairvoyant, publisher, and self-publicist Famed throughout Europe for her exclusive clientele, she popularised cartomancy and spawned an enormous wave of imitators. At the height of her career she claimed to have advised the likes of Robespierre, Talleyrand, Metternich, the Empress Josephine and Emperor Alexander himself; others argued that the whole thing was a sham, and she was frequently arrested, spending several weeks in prison.

    The title verso here gives a list of Le Normand’s other prophesies, both published and forthcoming. Though the half-title verso bears an author’s statement, requiring authorised copies to be signed by her, this copy is unsigned (though genuine).

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  • Le Roman d’une Américaine en Russie accompagné de lettres originales. by ‘LEAR, Fanny’, [pseudonym of Harriet Ely BLACKFORD]. ‘LEAR, Fanny’, [pseudonym of Harriet Ely BLACKFORD]. ~ Le Roman d’une Américaine en Russie accompagné de lettres originales. Brussels: [Cnophs fils, for] A. Lacroix et compagnie, 1875.
    First edition, large paper copy on vergé (and extremely rare thus). The scandalous memoirs of Philadelphia-born Harriet Ely Blackford, calling herself ‘Fanny Lear’, who conducted… (more)

    First edition, large paper copy on vergé (and extremely rare thus). The scandalous memoirs of Philadelphia-born Harriet Ely Blackford, calling herself ‘Fanny Lear’, who conducted an affair with Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich, nephew of Czar Nicholas I between 1870 and 1874. In 1874 she was accused of stealing diamonds belonging to the imperial family and she was banished from the court. Though written in English, Blackford supervised its translation into French for its Brussels-printed first edition—it has not appeared in English until recently. It was an instant bestseller, despite confiscation by the French police on request of the Russian authorities.

    Blackford had been freed from an abusive marriage by the death of her husband before moving to New York and then to Europe, where she moved in increasingly elevated circles, often courting disapproval through her liaisons with prominent and influential men. In Paris she was the subject of a stage comedy by Halévy (Fanny Lear) in 1868 (revived in 1875, presumably in response to the success of this book).

    Edith Wharton recalled being caught with a copy of Halévy’s play as a child: ‘it was... discovered that the work over which I was poring was a play by Ludovic Halévy, called “Fanny Lear,” which was having a succès de scandale in Paris owing to the fact that the heroine was what ladies of my mother's day called “one of those women” (A Backward Glance). Aspects of Blackford/Lear’s story are behind the character of the exotic Madame Olenska in The Age of Innocence. McDonald, Fanny Lear: Love and Scandal in Tsarist Russia, (2012).

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  • Histoire de la vie, du regne, et du detronement d’Iwan III. Empereur de Russie. Assassiné à Schlüsselbourg dans la nuit du 15. au 16. Juillet (ns.) 1764. Par Mr. de M****. by [MAUVILLON, Éléazar de]. [MAUVILLON, Éléazar de]. ~ Histoire de la vie, du regne, et du detronement d’Iwan III. Empereur de Russie. Assassiné à Schlüsselbourg dans la nuit du 15. au 16. Juillet (ns.) 1764. Par Mr. de M****. Londres: [s.n.], 1766.
    First edition, a rare account of the short and tragic life of Ivan Antanovitch, who reigned briefly as an infant Emperor of Russia from 1740-1… (more)

    First edition, a rare account of the short and tragic life of Ivan Antanovitch, who reigned briefly as an infant Emperor of Russia from 1740-1 before being spirited away after the coup of Elizabeth of Russia in 1741 and then conveniently assassinated in 1764, shortly after the accession of Catherine the Great. A false ‘Londres’ imprint: ESTC suggests printing in the Netherlands (and list no copies outside Europe). No copy listed in the catalogue of the Bibliothèque nationale.

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  • A Political Fair. by WOODWARD, [George Murgatroyd]. WOODWARD, [George Murgatroyd]. ~ A Political Fair. London: Thomas Tegg, October 1st 1807.
    George Woodward, affectionately dubbed ‘Mustard George’ by his contemporaries, was one of the pioneers of English caricature. Like his drinking-partner Thomas Rowlandson, Woodward absorbed high… (more)

    George Woodward, affectionately dubbed ‘Mustard George’ by his contemporaries, was one of the pioneers of English caricature. Like his drinking-partner Thomas Rowlandson, Woodward absorbed high and low culture omnivorously and paid keen attention to contemporary politics.

    A Political Fair is ‘a fantastic survey of the international situation’ in 1807 and is considered one of Woodward’s finest images, the print catalogue of the British Museum devoting two full pages to its complex allegories. At the heart of the fair is a large booth (‘The Best-Booth in the Fair’) representing Great Britain holding aloft on its platform images of Britannia, John Bull, together with an Irishman, Scotsman and Welsh harpist gathered convivially around a punchbowl, while a waiter sweeps into the chamber below with a vast joint of roast beef on his platter. All this was typical of Woodward’s patriotism and was intended to portray the essential unity of the nation amidst the host of clamouring figures in the neighbouring booths representing the other nations. Napoleon, in tricorn and feathers, rebuffs a disgruntled Dutchman complaining about his King with the words ‘I never change Mynheer after the goods are taken out of the Shop’. High up on the right, the American booth displays a placard advertising ‘Much ado about Nothing with the Deserter’, a reference to the friction between Britain and the United States over recent defections from British to American ships and the ban on armed British ships in American ports. The Danish booth on the left advertises ‘The English Fleet and The Devil to Pay’ in reference to the hideous bombardment of Copenhagen by the British fleet in September that year.

    Musical and theatrical references abound, with many of the placards punning on the titles of plays and musical performances then showing in London: Much ado about Nothing, All’s well that ends well (Shakespeare), The Padlock (Bickerstaffe), The Deserter (Dibdin), The Double Dealer (on the Russian booth, by Congreve) and The English Fleet (Dibdin again). BM Satires, 10763

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