The Secret Library of Marie Antoinette

Wednesday, September 8, 2021, 3PM

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Ronald B Schechter
In conjunction with the exhibition Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection join Ronald B Schechter, Professor in the Harrison Ruffin Tyler Department of History, The College of William and Mary, for a virtual presentation on the library of Marie Antoinette which consisted of more than 10,000 volumes. Almost nothing has been written about her library, though historians and biographers have hardly left any stone unturned in their descriptions of her. The reason for this neglect is the assumption that she didn’t read, which in turn comes from the belief that she lacked intelligence. Drawing on contemporary sources, Professor Schechter will show that Marie Antoinette did in fact read extensively, and that her library reveals her to have been an intelligent, thoughtful and, most surprisingly, radically minded person. The story of her library not only sheds light onto the inner life of a conflicted queen but tells us much about the culture of reading, especially among women, in eighteenth-century France.

Please note that the program will take place online. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to participate using Zoom. We ask that you download the app in advance for the best user experience.

Bound for Marie-Antoinette (1755–1793) Red morocco, with gilt tooling “à la Montgolfière” and monogram, on: Barthélemy Imbert (1747–1790) Lecture du soir, Paris, 1782, front and back covers with spine, PML 198379. The Morgan Library & Museum, PML 198379.

Please call (212) 685-0008 ext. 560 or e-mail for information.