70 years of Le Petit Prince

July 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s death – or, more precisely, his still-debated disappearance while flying over the Mediterranean. The legendary French aviator and writer needs no introduction, nor does his most famous work, Le Petit Prince. The internationally successful novella was first published in 1943 (in the USA initially, rather than Saint-Exupéry’s native France) and is now the most-read and most-translated book in the French language. The significance and influence of this author and work are reflected in the UL’s holdings: our catalogue lists well over 100 titles either by or about Saint-Exupéry, in most of the major languages we cover.

Le manuscrit du Petit Prince d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (S950.b.201.1914)

Le manuscrit du Petit Prince d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (S950.b.201.1914)

Le manuscrit du Petit Prince d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (S950.b.201.1914) is one of our most recent acquisitions relating to the author. This handsome edition – which contains the novella’s manuscript, both in facsimile and fully transcribed – has been compiled by the book’s original French publisher, Gallimard. Sadly, Saint-Exupéry did not live to see Le Petit Prince officially published in his home country. Although the 1943 US edition was issued in both French and English translation, the author’s outspoken anti-collaborationist views led to his work being banned under France’s wartime Vichy government. Therefore, Gallimard had to wait until after the war (and Saint-Exupéry’s death) to release the title.

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Publishing in haste

70 years ago Lucien Nachin published his book on General de Gaulle, entitled Charles de Gaulle : général de France. It was printed in Paris on August 25th 1944. A copy has just been added to the University Library’s collections, as part of the ever-expanding Liberation Collection, which has as one of its objectives the depiction of the French experience in print between 1944 and 1946.

Charles de Gaulle / L. Nachin

Charles de Gaulle / L. Nachin

This book appears at first glance to be completely unremarkable, but it in fact gives a vivid indication of French publishing activity of the period. It should be remembered that it was printed on the very same day that the German garrison occupying Paris surrendered. The colophon gives a sense of the secrecy and urgency with which the print run was prepared –Cet ouvrage, préparé et rédigé sous l’Occupation pour les Éditions Colbert, a été composé et tiré grace à l’organisation clandestine des Ateliers Brodard et Taupin.

The speed and difficulty surrounding the publication is described in the Note de l’éditeur on the title-page verso:

La rapidité avec laquelle ce livre a été composé, les conditions dans lesquelles il a été tiré, par les moyens de fortune, sans gaz et sans électricité (voir “l’achevé d’imprimer” à l’avant dernière page) ont entraîné un certain nombre d’erreurs typographiques dont nous nous excusons. Continue reading

The French Revolution and Pembroke : the Hadley collection

The Hadley collection on Napoleon and the French Revolution held in Pembroke College Library is a good example of the sort of little-used resource which the European Collections blog is trying to make better known. William Sheldon Hadley (1859-1927) spent his entire career at Cambridge. He came up to Pembroke to read classics, and became Master of the College thirty-four years later, holding the post until his death in 1927. 

The Hadley collection, in Pembroke College Library

The Hadley collection, in Pembroke College Library

Cultural historian Tom Stammers, a lecturer in the Department of History at Durham, describes in the following paragraphs why the Hadley material is of such interest.


The Hadley collection is a precious snapshot of how the French Revolution was understood in the opening decades of the twentieth century, with strength in four key areas. Continue reading