Betsy Balcombe

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Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe also known as Betsy Balcombe
B1455 04 Napoleon & Betsy c 1818 from Mrs Balcombe Griffiths.jpg
Born1802
Died29 June 1871
London, England
Resting placeKensal Green Cemetery, England
Genrebiography
Notable worksAbell, L. (1844). Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon during the first three years of his captivity on the island of St. Helena / Mrs. Lucia Elizabeth Abell. Lond.: Murray
SpouseEdward Abell

Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe Abell (1802 − 29 June 1871) was a friend of Napoleon I during his exile at Saint Helena. She was also an author and a land owner in New South Wales, Australia.

Biography[edit]

Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe (also known as Betsy Balcombe) was born in 1802 as the second child of William and Jane Balcombe, née Cranston.[1] Her father was Superintendent of Public Sales for the East India Company. Balcombe and her sister Jane, two years her senior, were educated in England. In 1814, the sisters returned to Saint Helena with their parents and two younger brothers. There they resided in a little cottage called the Briars,[2] which was the residence of Napoléon Bonaparte during the first three months of his exile in Saint Helena.[3]

In October 1815 Napoléon Bonaparte was exiled to Saint Helena by the British government.[4] Because Napoleon's residence, Longwood House, had not yet been rehabilitated, he was housed in a pavilion near 'The Briars' for the next two months. Although Balcombe was fearful of Bonaparte the first time they met, over time she and the emperor became friends.[5] The French officers and servants were jealous of the young English girl, who addressed Napoleon as "Boney", without being reprimanded by him.

After Napoleon was removed to Longwood House, Balcombe would often visit him. The European press recognised the relationship between the 47-year-old Napoleon and the teenage girl and wrote about a love story. In March 1818, the Balcombes left St. Helena and went back to England. Saint Helena governor Hudson Lowe disapproved of the friendship between the Balcombes and Napoleon, suspecting them of smuggling secret messages out of Longwood House.[6]

In May 1821, Betsy Balcombe married Edward Abell and had a daughter but the marriage soon failed.[7] Balcombe earned money by teaching music. In 1824 she made a visit with her family to New South Wales, Australia but returned to England soon after. [8] In 1830 she returned to New South Wales with her brother William and together they took up a land grant adjoining their father's property near Bungonia.[9]

Some years later she returned to London and in 1844 published a book Recollections of Emperor Napoleon[10] recounting her experiences on St Helena.[11]

After further travels in France and Algeria Betsy Balcombe died in London, on 29 June, 1871, [12] and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.[13]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Abell, L. (1844). Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon during the first three years of his captivity on the island of St. Helena / Mrs. Lucia Elizabeth Abell. Lond.: Murray
  • Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe Abell: To Befriend an Emperor: Betsy Balcombe's Memoirs of Napoleon on St. Helena. Welwyn Garden City, UK: Ravenhill, 2005, ISBN 1-905043-03-1
  • Anne Whitehead: Betsy And The Emperor: The True Story of Napoleon, a pretty girl, a Regency rake and an Australian colonial misadventure. Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2015, ISBN 978-1-76011-293-6
  • Costain, Thomas. "The Last Love". Republished: Doubleday, 2000. A fictionalized story of the relationship between Napoleon and Betsy Balcombe and her family.
  • Brookes, M. (1960). St. Helena story / Dame Mabel Brookes; with a foreword by R. G. Menzies. London; Melbourne: Heinemann.

In film[edit]

  • Napoléon is a 2002 historical TV miniseries which explored the life of Napoleon Bonaparte (based on Max Gallo's book Napoleon) of Napoleon's life. In the series, 14-year-old Betsy Balcombe is played by Tamsin Egerton-Dick.
  • Monsieur N. is a 2003 British-French film depicting Napoleon's life in St Helena Island directed by Antoine de Caunes. Betsy Balcombe is played by Siobhan Hewlett.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joan Kerr (editor), The Dictionary of Australian Artists Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Cambridge University Press, New York,1989. ISBN 0-19-553290-2, P.4
  2. ^ In 1960, the Australian writer Dame Mabel Brookes (1890–1975), Betsy Balcombe's grandniece, bought "The Briars" and gave it to the French nation. Brookes, M. (1960). St. Helena story / Dame Mabel Brookes; with a foreword by R. G. Menzies. London; Melbourne: Heinemann.
  3. ^ Abell, L. (1844). Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon during the first three years of his captivity on the island of St. Helena / Mrs. Lucia Elizabeth Abell. Lond.: Murray
  4. ^ Jacques Godechot, Napoleon I, Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc.. May 17, 2019, access date June 10, 2019
  5. ^ 'Abell, Lucia Elizabeth', publisher Design & Art Australia Online, date created Jan. 1, 1992, last updated Oct. 19, 2011, date accessed 2019-06-10
  6. ^ Abell, L. (1844). Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon during the first three years of his captivity on the island of St. Helena / Mrs. Lucia Elizabeth Abell. Lond.: Murray
  7. ^ Joan Kerr (editor), The Dictionary of Australian Artists Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Cambridge University Press, New York,1989. ISBN 0-19-553290-2, P.4
  8. ^ Joan Kerr (editor), The Dictionary of Australian Artists Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Cambridge University Press, New York,1989. ISBN 0-19-553290-2, P.4
  9. ^ Joan Kerr (editor), The Dictionary of Australian Artists Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Cambridge University Press, New York,1989. ISBN 0-19-553290-2, P.4
  10. ^ Abell, L. (1844). Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon during the first three years of his captivity on the island of St. Helena / Mrs. Lucia Elizabeth Abell. Lond.: Murray.
  11. ^ Joan Kerr (editor), The Dictionary of Australian Artists Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Cambridge University Press, New York,1989. ISBN 0-19-553290-2, P.4
  12. ^ Joan Kerr (editor), The Dictionary of Australian Artists Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Cambridge University Press, New York,1989. ISBN 0-19-553290-2, P.4
  13. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43020113 Lucia Elizabeth “Betsy” Balcombe Abell] Find a Grave, memorial ID 43020113

External links[edit]