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Alphonse de Lamartine Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: EL
Date: Apr 1975

Biographical History

Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine (1790-1869) was a French writer, poet and politician.

1790 Oct 21 Born at Mâcon to a Royalist family.
1794 The Lamartine household moves to Milly.
1803-1807 He attends school at the Jesuit college at Belley.
1811 Travel in Italy.
1812 Returns to France.
1814 Enters the Gardes du Corps.
1815 In Switzerland during the Hundred Days.
1817 Returns to Paris from the country and becomes active in society.
1818-1819 Revisits Italy, Switzerland, and Savoy.
1820 Les Méditations poétiques, his first published book. Marries Maria Anna Eliza Birch, an Englishwoman.
1820-1821 At Naples; he remained in diplomatic service until 1829.
1821 Birth of Valentine de Cessiat, to whom Lamartine wrote most of the letters in this collection.
1822 Visits England.
1823 Les Nouvelles méditations published.
1825-1828 In Florence as legation secretary.
1829 Elected to the Académie Française.
1830 Having given up his diplomatic career, he takes an active interest in politics after the Revolution of 1830.
1832 Travels in Greece, Syria, and Palestine. The Lamartines' only surviving child, Julia, dies at Beirut.
1833 Elected a deputy to the national assembly, where he gained a reputation as an orator.
1836 The narrative poem Jocelyn published.
1838 La Chute d'un ange published.
1839 The publication of Les Recueillements poétiques marks the virtual end of his poetic output.
1847 Histoire des Girondins.
1848 Feb In the Revolution of 1848 he becomes an important national figure as the minister of foreign affairs, as the effective head of the provisional government, and as one of five members of the Executive Committee.
1848 Dec Loses as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic.
1849 Le Conseiller du peuple begins publication. Les Confidences and Histoire de la Révolution de 1848 are published.
1851 Dec Retires from public life after the coup d'état of Louis-Napoleon.
1850s-1860s In his last years, having incurred great debts during his political career, he attempts to restore his finances through the writing of many volumes of history and biography.
1863 Maria Anna Eliza Lamartine dies.
1867 The Assembly votes Lamartine a subsidy.
1867 Sep? Lamartine probably marries Valentine de Cessiat, one of the daughters of his sister Cécile.
1869 Feb 28 Dies at Paris.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alphonse de Lamartine Collection contains 191 letters and several incidental items. Dated items in the collection span the years 1829 to 1867, but the years 1842 to 1854 are the most heavily represented.

Most of the correspondence consists of autograph letters, signed, of Lamartine. One hundred fifty-four of these letters, dating from 1841 to 1856, are addressed to his favorite niece, Valentine de Cessiat. In these letters, most of which are three to five pages in length, he wrote of his political fortunes and his literary and personal concerns. One letter, dated 28 May 1845, is the poem "La fleur des eaux," with deletions and with variations from the text as it appears in Oeuvres poétiques complètes, edited by M.-F. Guyard ([Paris], Gallimard, 1963). Approximately fifty-eight of these letters to Valentine de Cessiat have been published, often with significant omissions, in Marie-Thérèse Emile Ollivier, Valentine de Lamartine (Paris, Librairie Hachette, 1908) and Lamartine et ses nièces; correspondence inédite (Paris, Les petits-fils de Plon et Nourrit, [1928]). There are three letters from Valentine de Cessiat to Lamartine.

Dated correspondence is arranged chronologically; letters dated only to the year precede letters of the same year with complete dates. Many of the Lamartine letters lack complete dates in his own handwriting, but are arranged either by dates supplied from pencil notations on the letters themselves or, in the case of letters with accompanying transcripts, by dates penciled onto the transcripts. These penciled dates may be postmark dates from envelopes discarded before the letters' arrival at Syracuse. One date has been supplied at Syracuse from a postmark, and another date has been supplied from a dealer- catalogue entry that is attached to the letter. These penciled dates on the majority of the letters are not verified.

Undated correspondence (arranged alphabetically first by the name of the writer, thereunder by the name of the addressee) and correspondence without year dates (arranged by month) are filed after the dated correspondence. All of the correspondence is in French, and approximately half of the letters are accompanied by typed transcripts. Each letter is placed in an individual folder.

There are, in addition, seventeen letters from Lamartine to fifteen other correspondents, five letters from Lamartine to unidentified correspondents, and twelve letters of Maria A. E. (Birch) de Lamartine, ten of which are addressed to her physician, Jules Tallien de Cabarrus.

In the section of miscellaneous items at the end of the collection are a stamped letter cover bearing a Paris postmark of 25 November 1858, a letter cover fragment, and a quarto sheet on which Lamartine set forth in a two-page holograph his conditions for the establishment of a political newspaper.

Arrangement of the Collection

Letters are arranged in chronological order. An index to correspondence is given at the end of this inventory.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Cessiat, Valentine de.
Lamartine, Alphonse de, 1790-1869.
Lamartine, Marianne de.


Authors, French.
French literature -- 19th century.
Poets, French.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts (document genre)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alphonse de Lamartine Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Correspondence between Lamartine and Valentine de Cessiat, Purchase, 1958. Twelve Maria A. E. (Birch) de Lamartine letters, fifteen Lamartine letters, and three miscellaneous items, purchase, 1969. Seven letters of Lamartine, purchase, 1971.

Table of Contents


Index to correspondence


Index to correspondence

All letters are from Lamartine to the individual listed, with the exception of three items from Valentine de Cessiat (noted in the index as "to AL"), and all items from Maria de Lamartine.