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Betsy and the Emperor

After Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, he was sent into exile on Saint Helena. He became an 'eagle in a cage', reduced from the most powerful figure in Europe to a prisoner on a rock in the South Atlantic. But the fallen emperor was charmed by the pretty teenage daughter of a local merchant, Betsy Balcombe. Anne Whitehead brings to life Napoleon's last years on Saint Helena, revealing the central role of the Balcombe family. She also lays to rest two centuries of speculation about Betsy's relationship with Napoleon. After Napoleon's death, Betsy travelled to Australia in 1823 with her father, who was appointed the first Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales. When the family lost their fortune, she returned to London and published a memoir that made her a celebrity. With her extraordinary connections to royalty and high society, Betsy Balcombe led a life worthy of a Regency romance, but she was always fighting for her independence. This new account reveals Napoleon at his most vulnerable, human and reflective, and a woman caught in some of the most dramatic events of her time. 'Anne Whitehead deftly weaves a lively, poignant tale of Napoleon's last years on St Helena and the precocious teenager whose impudent charm briefly enlivened his exile. Her indefatigable pursuit of a tantalising archival trail takes her readers from St Helena to England, Scotland, France and New South Wales, uncovering a life curiously shadowed by its early brush with fame.' - Professor Penny Russell, University of Sydney
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Table of Contents

Preface PART ONE 1 The News 2 The Prisoner 3 Friends and Foes 4 The Briars 5 The Pavilion 6 Boney's Little Pages 7 The French Suite 8 The Admiral's Ball 9 Last Days at the Pavilion 10 Longwood House 11 The New Governor 12 Gold Lace and Nodding Plumes 13 This Accursed Place 14 The Thinning Ranks 15 The Sick Lion 16 Our Beautiful Island 17 The Company of a Green Parrot 18 At the Mercy of the English 19 Farewell to the Island PART TWO 20 The Ties that Bind 21 The Embattled Surgeon 22 An Impending Tempest 23 The St Helena Plot 24 Official Disgrace 25 An Item of News 26 The One that Got Away 27 Marry in Haste . . . 28 'La Petite Angleterre' 29 The Clearing Fog PART THREE 30 Sydney Town 31 'The Interesting Mrs Abell' 32 The Fashionables 33 A Fleeting Entente Cordiale 34 The Treasury Under the Bed 35 'Terrible Hollow' 36 A Fractured Family 37 Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon Acknowledgements Notes Index


About the Author

Anne Whitehead is an author, historian and former TV producer-director with the ABC. She is the author of Bluestocking in Patagonia and her book Paradise Mislaid was winner of the NSW Premier's Award for Australian History.

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