gb fr

Stendhal and the battle of Waterloo

Somerset House - Strand, London WC2R 1LA

An event commemorating the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo in 1815, and in particular the description of the battle given by the great French novelist Marie-Henri Beyle, also known as Stendhal.

Stendhal provides a uniquely important perspective on the battle and on the end of the Napoleonic age. A great supporter of the Emperor, he accompanied the Grande Armée on several major campaigns, including the retreat from Moscow. His experiences informed the fictional account of the battle of Waterloo in his novel The Charterhouse of Parma in which he places his character Fabrizio at the battle of Waterloo.

The popular image of Waterloo in the UK is usually of British troops, formed in squares, resisting an onslaught of French cavalry. But the majority of the Allied army at Waterloo consisted of soldiers from Holland, Belgium, Germany and Ireland, and it was the arrival of Blücher’s Prussian army that decided the result of the battle. This fascinating event will explore the battle as the major European event which it was, marking the end of the Napoleonic wars and the start of an unprecedented era of European peace and development.

For more information and to book a place, go to

The event will feature Dr. Sheila Bell of the University of Kent, who will speak on Stendhal, and Dr. Nicholas White of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who directs teaching and research on 19th century literature in the University's French Department. Readings from Stendhal and other contemporaries will be delivered by the actor Lucy Tregear.

Programmed by the Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation, and held in partnership with the Dutch Embassy and the Institut Français, the event will provide a unique account of the battle of Waterloo and its significance through literature and history.

Dr. Sheila Bell has worked for many years on the novels and autobiographical writing of Stendhal, publishing a monograph and a series of articles on Stendhal’s unfinished autobiography, Vie de Henry Brulard, and articles on the novels, including La Chartreuse de Parme. She was a contributor to the Dictionnaire de Stendhal published by Champion in 2003.

Dr. Nicholas White is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He has lectured on writers such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Nerval, Sand, Rimbaud, Sand, Stendhal, Vallès, France, and Zola, and on a range of historical topics, from the Revolution to the Dreyfus Affair.

Lucy Tregear has been acting for over 25 years for stage, including the West End and RSC, TV, film and radio. In 2014 she was part of the successful Middlemarch Trilogy at the Orange Tree Theatre.

The event also complements Unseen Waterloo, an exhibition of imaginary documentary style portraits of the soldiers who served at Waterloo, photographed on the battlefield itself by Sam Faulkner, in commemoration of the Battle’s bicentenary this year. The exhibition runs from 12 June-31 August 2015 and admission is free of charge. Sam Faulkner’s book of the same name will be available for purchase at the event.

The event will be taking place in the screening room at Somerset House from 6.30pm on 18 June 2015 and will start promptly at 7pm.

Tickets cost £10 (£8 concessions) and are available from Spaces are limited so book now.