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The Libraries and Reading Habits of British Prisoners of War in Napoleonic France and Mauritius

Tuesday 11 February 2020, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Elodie Duché (York St John University)

Centre for Eighteenth Century Research Seminar

This paper explores the reading practices of an estimated 16,000 British prisoners of war kept in France and Mauritius during the Napoleonic Wars. Drawing on the inventory of a Franco-British circulating library co-created by captives, a variety of ego-documents and correspondence kept by some prisoners, this paper highlights how these captives found themselves at the confluence of local, transnational and global reading worlds during a decade of imprisonment. A study of the books and stories that travelled with them reveals the intricate contacts they made with various French populations. A closer examination of these encounters can help us better understand the complexities of Franco-British relations during the period.

Elodie Duché is Senior Lecturer at York St John University. She completed her PhD at the University of Warwick in 2015 under the supervision of Professor Carolyn Steedman. Her research on experiences of war captivity during the Napoloenic Wars has been supported by various awards, including an Alan Pearsall Postdoctoral Fellowship at the IHR, an ACU Early Career Fellowship at Western Sydney University and a BSECS Visiting Scholarship at CECS. She has published on prisoner of war life-writing, charity networks and their relations with slave communities in Mauritius. She has a chapter on Napoleonic prisoners of war coming up in the New Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars, and she is currently working on a book project, which draws on her doctoral and postdoctoral research into the lives of British paroled captives in Napoleonic France and Mauritius.



Location: K/G07, King's Manor

Admission: All Welcome