Napoleon arrived on St Helena in October 1815 aboard the British 74-gun warship HMS Northumberland. For the first six weeks he stayed at The Briars, a property in the Upper Jamestown Valley where he enjoyed the hospitality of the Balcombe family. By the end of December, the re-building work on his destined home, Longwood, was completed, and Napoleon moved there, accompanied—to his annoyance—by his entourage. He found the site bleak, inhospitable, and conducive to rheumatism.
The British Government was paranoid that Napoleon might be rescued; a large military presence was maintained on the island with numerous warships anchored offshore. This paranoia extended to the new Governor, Sir Hudson Lowe. He ran a tyrannical and petty campaign against the residents at Longwood and had violent arguments with Napoleon, who refused to cooperate with him.
Mabel Brookes’ Napoleon on St Helena is one of the best accounts of the fallen Emperor’s five-and-a-half-year imprisonment, which ended in 1821 with his death from a stomach ulcer. It presents the full story of Napoleon’s household, with its conflicting personalities and domestic arrangements, his relationship with the local and military residents, and the long-standing feud between Plantation House and Longwood.
Mabel Balcombe Brookes (1890- 1975), was born in Australia and brought up in a wealthy bookish household. Her great-grandfather had been William Balcombe, Napoleon’s host at the Briars. In 1957 she visited St Helena, bought the Briars site, and later in a ceremony in Paris, she donated it to the French nation. Along with Longwood and the site of Napoleon’s tomb, the Briars is now a mini-dominion of France on St Helena. Mabel Brookes wrote this book in 1960 and it was first published as St Helena Story.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Illustrations: 80 colour illustrations