Update — Autumn 2022

I. EE Edition of Correspondence

This autumn, EE has extended its collection of letters and documents relating to Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais by adding 417 items from volume 2 of Beaumarchais and the Courier De L’Europe, edited by Gunnar von Proschwitz and published in 1990 as part of the Studies in Voltaire and the Eighteenth-Century series. This extends our publication of these letters and brings the total to 674. The new items here will be of particular interest to scholars interested in Beaumarchais’ personal correspondence and accounts relating to the publication of his ‘Kehl’ Edition of the complete works of Voltaire (1783–90). Also covered are his relationship with the press, specifically the Courier De l’Europe as well as its editors Charles Theveneau de Morande and Samuel Swinton. The letters here also shed light on French newspapers operating in England in the 1780s and 90s, as well as documenting Beaumarchais’ behind-the-scenes relationships with theatre managers, publishers and distributors handling The Marriage of Figaro (1784). Highlights of the collection include Beaumarchais ‘Réflexions sur les secours à donner à l’Amérique’, written in 1781, outlining his proposal for French economic and military support for the American effort in the American War of Independence. There is also a long 1785 letter from Beaumarchais to the Baron de Breteuil, which reads as a both a theatrical manifesto and defence against charges of salaciousness and indecency which had been levelled at Figaro. From the Courier de L’Europe we have 40 excerpted pieces, including Beaumarchais’ outline of Figaro, and an early reaction to it by fellow playwright Antoine Bret, as well as a fascinating pseudonymous letter purporting to be from Morande, alongside a public retraction by the real editor. This letter chastises Beaumarchais for his criticism of a man named Guillaume Kornmann (1741–1795) and claims responsibility on Morande’s part for slander against him. It was, in fact, written by a supporter of Kornmann, whose wife Beaumarchais had defended against charges of adultery, prompting him to attempt to start a paper war.

II. New Article

Beaumarchais and Electronic Enlightenment

Gregory Brown explores the significance of Beaumarchais, his correspondence, and the recently completed publication in EE of the Proschwitz edition of Beaumarchais letters. read more…

III. New Letters

IV. New Biographies

This update has included 57 new biographical notes, including actors, publishers, revolutionaries, merchants and politicians, some of the most notable biographies added are:

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