VOLTAIRE, FRANCOIS-MARIE AROUET. 1694-1778.
Autograph Manuscript, being a portion of the original manuscript of Therese, 8 pp recto and verso, 4to, [Paris?], [before 1743], ink in two columns with manuscript along the left, with corrections to the right, lightly toned at the margins, with minor staining and skillful repair along the edges,modern red morocco, lightly worn at the joints.
Provenance: Sold by Madame Denis, Voltaire's niece, to Pierre Beaumarchais (1732-1799, from a catalogue entry laid-in); Desmond Flower (1907-1997, bookplate); Sold Sotheby's London, 1968 to A.C. Martin; Sold Sotheby's London, May 16, 1991.
THE ONLY SURVIVING FRAGMENT OF HIS COMEDY "THERESE," completed in 1743, but never published during his lifetime, and never publicly performed. Following on the success of Merope in February, 1743, Voltaire sent the manuscript of Therese to the remarkable actress Madmoiselle Dumesnil in July of 1743, but she declined the invitation. Later that year, the divine Emelie, Madame du Chatelat gave a private performance at her house in Cirie, with none other than herself in the title role.
After his death, Voltaire's niece Madame Denis sold his manuscripts to Beaumarchais who was assembling a collected works, but only included complete manuscripts in his edition of 1780-1782. The play was published for the first time by Beuchot in the 1828 edition of his works, but from a copy made by the Kehl editor, Decroix.
The present continuous fragment comprises in part scenes 3, 4 & 5 of the first act, including revisions. The famed Voltaire collector Desmond Flower, whose Voltaire collection resides at the Harry Ransom Center Texas, used the present manuscript for a privately printed edition given to the Roxburghe Club in 1981, and his bookplate decorates the pastedown. Voltaire manuscripts are of the greatest rarity.