Bookplate of Madeleine Berthault

Special Collections

Madeleine Berthault

520 documents
Printed books

Madeleine Berthault (Paris, 1881-1906) was the eldest daughter of Eugène Anne Berthault, doctor of arts, a specialist in reformed preaching in the reign of Louis XIV, and Thérèse Morpurgo, widow of the musician Salvatore Cesare Tamburini. She grew up in a patchwork family, dividing her time between Paris and Dampmart (Seine-et-Marne), where her father had bought a summer house. Madeleine was schooled at home, particularly by her father who taught her ancient literature, but he died when she was only thirteen. She became close friends with a boy of her age, Marcel de Porto-Riche, the son of the famous playwright Georges de Porto-Riche. The premature death of this promising avant-garde journalist, in February 1905, put an end to an intense correspondence (now in the Manuscripts department of the BnF), full of drama and literary criticism.
Madeleine was in the process of converting to Catholicism (according to her diary, now in the Marguerite Durand library, Paris) when she died suddenly from complications following appendicitis, on 15 December 1906, at the age of twenty five. Her mother sought to immortalise her daughter's memory and offered her books to several libraries in Paris. Georges de Porto-Riche had been appointed director of the Mazarine Library a few months earlier (decree of 17 July 1906) and, in a moving letter to Thérèse Berthault (7 February 1907), he offered to donate Marcel's books to the Library as well, in memory of their children's friendship. The double donation was made accordingly and by April 1907 the books were processed and distributed through the collections according to their formats. Madeleine Berthault's various bookplates and the ex dono Anne Madeleine Berthault stamp added by the library identify the volumes in this collection. It is now virtually reassembled in the online catalogue, where provenance is specified.
This private library, containing some 520 titles, covers many fields from military strategy to chemistry, but religion and French literature were clearly Madeleine Berthault's main interest, as her letters confirm. In particular there are books on the theatre, biographies of famous women and collections of letters. The collection includes editions dated from 1532 to 1906, sets of prints and an atlas.