Inside Longwood

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"Inside Longwood - Barry O'Meara's clandestine letters" is a book published in May 2012.

Barry O'Meara was the Navy surgeon chosen by Napoleon in July 1815 to follow him to St. Helena as his personal physician. O'Meara's unique position among the captives gave him an insight into their personal routines and thoughts. His status as a British officer gave him access to Plantation House, seat of the Governor of St. Helena, Napoleon’s “gaoler” Sir Hudson Lowe.

Despite the restrictions that surrounded Longwood House, Napoleon's residence, O'Meara decided to conduct a clandestine correspondence with John Finlaison, a friend at the Admiralty in London. His letters recorded his private conversations with the illustrious captive, who became increasingly irritated by Sir Hudson Lowe.

In the autumn of 1817, when Napoleon's health began to decline, the Governor would not believe his physician's diagnosis. Pressure was exerted upon O'Meara, but to no avail, and finally, in July 1818, he was expelled from Longwood. Without medical assistance for over a year, and increasingly isolated in his wretched, damp abode, Napoleon’s health gradually deteriorated leading to his death in May 1821.

These clandestine letters offer an invaluable insight into Napoleon's state of mind during his captivity. O'Meara would later use them to compile his famous book, A Voice from St. Helena, in 1822. However, in the published work, he exercised restraint and softened the tone of the original letters which now for the first time are published in their entirety in Inside Longwood.

Published in England, the book is orderable from online services such as Amazon, or directly from the author (via the Contact form).

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Albert Benhamou is the author of L'autre Sainte-Hélène (2010), a comprehensive scholarly account of Napoleon’s exile on St. Helena, published in French. He is also the author of a number of articles on the Napoleonic period. He lives with his family in England.

Inside Longwood - book cover

Readers' Comments
Napoleon reading

- John Tyrrell, a known blogger about Napoleon in St. Helena, has posted a book review at his blog page ; his conclusion is that "Albert Benhamou has done a great service in extracting these letters from the archives so that we may for the first time read them as a whole and judge for ourselves."

- J. David Markham, President of the International Napoleonic Society (INS), wrote on web site: "Albert Benhamou had made a very important contribution to the field of Napoleonic studies in general and Napoleon's time on St Helena in particular. By bringing these important letters together into one book he has eased the process of researching this aspect of Napoleon's life and added another 'must read' volume to the literature of St Helena."

- the Friends of St. Helena society also published a positive book review in their magazine "St. Helena Connection" No. 13 - The review concludes with: "Inside Longwood is an important addition to the ever increasing literature relating to the captivity because it is a rare example of new source material being brought to public notice with only very limited comment and interpretation."

- a reader from Amazon has also posted his comments in their web site ; his opening remark is that "This wonderful little gem of a book will be treasured by anyone with an interest in Napoleon and his time on St Helena."

- In France, the Foundation Napoleon has posted a notification of the publication of this book in their English pages

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