Thursday, May 20, 2010

Non-Fiction: Marie Antoinette

General Biographies

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette Before the Revolution by Nesta Webster *

The first in an excellent two volume dual biography about the king and queen before and during the Revolution.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey
by Antonia Fraser *

An engaging popular historical biography, this sympathetic portrait of Marie Antoinette makes no attempt to hide her shortcomings, while focusing on her personal warmth and noble bearing during her final ordeal.

Marie-Antoinette: A Portrait by Ian Dunlop

An unusually sympathetic portrait of the tragic Queen.

Marie Antoinette by Desmond Seward *

A carefully written biography, Seward does not hide Marie Antoinette's failings - but nor does he twist them to suit a romantic fairy tale or contemporary bias. A bit dated, but a short, informational biography.

Louis and Antoinette by Vincent Cronin

A dual biography that, like Webster's dual biography volumes, recognizes the need to study the king and queen together in order to properly understand their decisions and lives.

Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman by Stefan Zweig

An engrossing, dramatic biography that focuses on the human emotions of the participants and victims of the French Revolution. A very Freudian biography that has influenced many of the works published afterward.

Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever

A highly readable translation of Lever's 1991 biography, which does not soften her faults or downplay any poor judgement. Lever has written several French books about the queen, including a collection of her correspondence. Note: The English translation of this book is heavily abridged from the 1991 French Edition, which was 800+ pages, while this translation is 300-400 pages.

To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

A smoothly written biography written by the author of the fictional The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. Although the book does not add a great deal of new information, it is still a highly readable account.

Marie Antoinette by Joan Haslip

A good introduction for general readers. The book is reliable when it sticks to the queen and her entourage, but there are errors and outdated interpredations when it comes to France or Europe at large. Despite the errors, it is still a lively portrait of the queen herself.

Queen of France: A biography of Marie Antoinette by Andre Castelot

A recent biography that has the readability of a good novel - Castelot is a French scholar and historian who takes us from her arrival to France to the day she was execution.

Marie Antoinette: And The Decline Of French Monarchy (European Queens) by Nancy Lotz

A positive Young Adult biography that may surprise YA readers who associate Marie Antoinette with frivolous, royal excess. The biography is engaging, though doesn't consistently offer supporting evidence, which does a disservice to young readers.

Spilling the Beans on Marie Antoinette by Mick Gowar

A fun, good historical lesson accompanied by comical illustrations for young readers.

Marie Antoinette by Mary Englar

A part of the Snap! Biography series, this biography uses both pictures and first hand quotations to reveal the woman behind the crown.


The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie Antoinette by Chantal Thomas *

A history of the myth of one of the most infamous queens in French history. In her analysis of the never-ending pamphlets written from the 1770s until her death in 1793 - seven of which are reprinted in full in the book - Thomas exposes the role in which the myth of Marie-Antoinette emerged as a crucial element in the successful staging of the French Revolution.

The Queen’s Necklace: Marie Antoinette and the Scandal That Shocked and Mystified France by Frances Mossiker

This extensive volume about the Affair of the Diamond necklace uses the legal record of the trial, letters, statements, and memoirs from eyewitnesses to expose one of the greatest scandals of 18th century France. Mossiker chooses to allow readers to draw their own conclusions, rather than imparting her own interpretation and judgement on the people involved.

The Private Realm of Marie Antoinette by Marie-France Boyer

This book rediscovers the private places and objects that reflect Marie Antoinette's personality, revealing more than official portraits and great historical events. With beautiful photographs by Francois Halard, the rooms and buildings she lived in are shown with detail. (123 illustrations, 108 in color.)

Walks Through Marie Antoinette’s Paris Diana Reid Haig

A guided tour through a number of Marie Antoinette related French locations - the famous sites, and the less well known locations - with history, anecdotes, and illustrations.

Marie Antoinette Style by Adrien Goetz

A visual introduction to Marie Antoinette - from her bedroom, to her apartments, to her private retreat at Trianon.

Marie Antoinette and the Last Garden of Versailles by Christian Duvernois and Francois Halard

This book focuses on Marie Antoinette's private realm. Her private domain, and its story, are told with accompanying photographs by Francois Halard taken after the recent restoration of Versailles.

Marie Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen by Dena Goodman and Thomas E. Kaiser

A collection of essays revealing how political and cultural contest were enacted "on the body of the queen," and on the identity of Marie Antoinette herself. Exploring both the difficulties of her position as a woman, queen, and foreigner, they help us to understand the accusations of lesbianism, incest, and treason launched against her.

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber *
A history of Marie Antoinette through the lens of her fashion. A well detailed study, this book is both a biography and a study about the consequences of her choice of clothing and appearance, and how it affected her world.

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