Mémoires de Miledi B... by LA GUESNERIE, Charlotte Marie Anne…

The Rosebery copy
LA GUESNERIE, Charlotte Marie Anne Charbonnier de (1710-1785).

Mémoires de Miledi B... Par Madame R.., Première [-Quatrième] Partie. Amsterdam, Cuissart, 1760.

First Edition. Four parts in two volumes, 12mo (134 x 70 mm), pp. [iv], 152; [ii], 119; [ii], 130; [ii], 159, in contemporary green goatskin, gilt triple fillet to covers, spines gilt in compartments with red goatskin labels lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, with the contemporary booklabel of the ‘Bibliotheque de Madame de la Borde’, the gilt orange leather Rosebery booklabel, with Rosebery’s purchase note and auction slip pasted to front endpaper and the Mentmore stamp on the first title page in each volume (parts 1 and 3).

A scarce sentimental novel about a young lady brought up in Scotland by her widowed father with the help of a faithful governess and servant. His final instructions to her before dying is that she should leave the country of her birth and go to France to live with an aunt in Paris. A romanticised portrait of the heroine’s solitary upbringing in the wilds of Scotland is contrasted with the whirl of Paris where she is introduced into high society and becomes something of a sensation: ‘Elevée dans une grotte, loin du commerce des hommes, je devins singulière, aussi curieuse à voir qu’un Siamois ou un Persan... Je devins donc une mode, une fantaisie qu’il falloit voir, louer & admirer’ (IV, 49-50). Welcomed by the suitably named ‘Monsieur de Villebrun’ and the oddly named ‘Milord Workinscheton’, the plot gives a colourful background to discussions of class, identity and innocence.
This novel has often been attributed to Madame Riccoboni because of the misleading ‘Avis du Libraire’ in the first volume, in which Riccoboni’s best selling novels are cited: ‘L’Accueil que le Public a fait aux Lettres de Mistris Fanni, &c. & à celle de Miladi Juliette, m’ont engagé à lui présenter les Mémoires de Miledi B... Je serai satisfait s’il les reçoit avec autant d’empressement. Dans peu j’espère mettre au jour un autre Ouvrage du même Auteur’. A popular novel, it ran to a second edition in the same year and was reprinted in 1761 and 1764. A Polish translation was also published, Kalwinka Na Pustyni Wychowana Albo Pamietnik Miledy B***, W Supraslu [Drukarnia Bazylianòw], 1788.
This is a delightful copy from the libraries of James T. Gibson Craig and the Earl of Rosebery, with the additional early female provenance of Madame de la Borde. An ink inscription by the Earl of Rosebery on the front endpaper notes ‘Gibson Craig sale 1887. Lot 1471’ and the 1887 auction slip is pasted in. Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929) was British Prime Minister from March 1894 until June 1895.

Cioranescu 35809 & 53044; MMF 60:20; Gay III, 142: ‘Roman intéressant et bien écrit’.

OCLC lists BN, Sainte-Geneviève and Augsburg.

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