Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans. Henriette-Lucie Dillon Marquise de La Tour-du-Pin Gouvernet.
Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans
Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans

Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans. 1778-1815

Paris: Librairie Chapelot, 1913. 5th Edition. 2 vols., octavo, contemporary three-quarter white vellum over elaborately patterned black-and-white morocco or polished calf, red morocco spine labels gilt, all edges red, marbled endpapers.

Early edition of the posthumously published memoirs of Lucie Dillon, Marquise de La Tour du Pin, an eyewitness to the French Revolution and its aftermath, in a striking, early 20th-century designer's binding. Dillon, a self-possessed French noblewoman of Irish descent, served as a lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette. She fled the Terror with her family, first to Bordeaux, then to America, where she subsisted as a dairy farmer in upstate New York. Eventually she returned to France, where her husband took an appointment at Napoleon's court. She began her memoirs in 1820, as a personal record for her children (all but one of whom she outlived), and they were first published by her great-grandson in 1906. The memoirs serve as a primary source for historians, particularly regarding court life at Versailles during the events of the Revolution (Dillon memorably describes the Women's March on Versailles of October 5, 1789, a turning point, when demonstrations over the price of bread snowballed into a mob, fatefully forcing the court back to Paris); they are, as well, a record of French life in the early United States (Dillon owned slaves, traded with the Iroquois and the local Dutch, met Alexander Hamilton, and was a confidante to Talleyrand in exile). But they are also notable, and highly readable, as an example of what was then an emerging literary genre in France, the first-person women's autobiography that focuses both on public people and events and on the author's interior life (cf. Madame de Staël, Madame de Genlis, Madame d'Abrantès, etc.). Text in French. The binding – black-and-white leather worked in an organic, tessellated pattern – is unsigned, but is reminiscent of fine French designer bindings of the early 20th-century by the likes of Paul Bonet, Pierre Legrain, and Rose Adler (while obviously not of quite the same intricacy as work by those masters of the craft). Frontispiece portraits to each volume (of Dillon and her husband respectively). Text somewhat embrowned; minor scoring to surface of rear boards. Near fine. Item #506