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Napoleon letter in English from 1816 – estimate £130,000-180,000 at Bonhams on October 27.

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Las Cases, who had honed his English skills during his own exile in London after the Revolution, gave him his first two lessons in August 1815 and once established with his entourage on St Helena, the tutorials began in earnest the following January.

When suffering from insomnia, and driven to succeed, Napoleon would amuse himself by secretly writing to Las Cases in English, for him to correct and return. Only three letters of this ‘night correspondence’ appear to have survived including this one dated Longwood, 4.30a.m., 9 March 1816. Writing in a barely comprehensible, idiosyncratic style of English peppered with French verbs, he begins “…it is two o’clock after midnight, I have enow sleep I go then finish the night into to cause with you…”

Only three of these letters are known; this one last sold at Osenat in Paris in 2012. It returns to auction at Bonhams on October 27 as part of The British Sale where it is expected to bring £130,000-180,000.

bonhams.com