Collection of rare letters wins top French honour | University of Oxford

Collection of rare letters wins top French honour

A 'towering' scholarly work published by Oxford University's Voltaire Foundation has been awarded a prestigious French honour.

The Correspondance générale de La Beaumelle (1726-1773), a 16-volume set of which nine volumes have been published so far, has been awarded the 2013 Prix de la Fondation Edouard Bonnefous de l’Institut de France, on the recommendation of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. 

La Beaumelle was a French Enlightenment man of letters who lived in the 18th century and was a prominent Huguenot – a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of France.

The Correspondance générale de La Beaumelle (1726-1773) is comprised of unpublished documents from a private collection. La Beaumelle's writing displays his diverse interests and sheds light on contemporary social events and intellectual developments in politics, literature, philosophy, history and religion, as well as the workings of the book trade.

The prize, worth €33,000, was presented at a ceremony at the Académie Française in Paris on Tuesday.

Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of the Voltaire Foundation, said: 'The correspondence of La Beaumelle, scarcely known hitherto, is a vast source of information, not just about his own life and that of his sworn enemy Voltaire, but about 18th-century intellectual life more generally. 

'The completed print edition of the correspondence will constitute a landmark in European Enlightenment studies. 

'The Voltaire Foundation is enormously proud to publish this towering work of scholarship, and we congratulate our editors, Hubert Bost, Claude Lauriol and Hubert Angliviel de La Beaumelle, on this richly deserved award.'