Pierre Antoine Lebrun (1785-1873), a precocious poet and playwright (he wrote his first tragedy at the age of 12) is known for his odes to the glory of Napoleon, but his first real literary success came in 1820 with Marie Stuart, adapted from Schiller, considered to be the first French romantic drama. Under the July monarchy, his career was administrative rather than literary: a member of the French Academy since 1828, he was the acting permanent secretary when Villemain was Minister of Public Instruction (1839-1848), while directing the Imprimerie Royale (1831-1848) and the Journal des Savants from 1839. He was made a member of the State Council in 1838 and peer of France in 1839. Under the Second Empire he became senator. In 1873, his widow decided to give all his papers to the Mazarine.
The Pierre-Antoine Lebrun collection is composed mainly of his literary correspondence (letters from Balzac, Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, etc.), his manuscripts and notes on his own plays (Marie Stuart, Le Cid d'Andalousie, etc.), manuscripts of his poems, literary criticism and administrative documents. There are also documents about Talma, his favourite actor, strange caricatures attributed to Prosper Mérimée and photo albums. Originally stored in a filing cabinet bequeathed by his widow, most of the manuscripts were reconditioned and rebound in the early twentieth century.
The brief inventory drawn up in 1873 by Antonius Pingard, head of the secretariat of the Institute gave an idea of the content of the collection, which is currently being reviewed for a detailed description in Calames.