An Irish poet fond of Provencal celebrates Romania's independence and publishes it in Plymouth

BONAPARTE-WYSE, William Charles

On Occasion of Roumania Constituting Herself a Kingdom. An Ode. With a French version by Constant Hennion

Publication: L. W. N. Keys, Plymouth, 1881.

BONAPARTE-WYSE, William Charles, On Occasion of Roumania Constituting Herself a Kingdom. An Ode. With a French version by Constant Hennion

A fascinating multi-cultural work, from Ireland and the UK to France and Romania – in a fine, large-paper example inscribed by the author, a relative of Napoleon. Very rare.

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Our Notes & References

An inscribed copy of this rare and unusual provincial publication, in original wrappers and with wide margins, the half-title bearing “With the author’s compliments”.

The poem was written on the setting up of the Transylvanian principalities as an independent kingdom at the Treaty of Berlin, and the coronation of Carol the First in May 1881.

OCLC gives only three copies (NYPL, Dublin and BL), to which the CCFr adds only one copy in France (Montpellier).

William Charles Bonaparte-Wyse (1826–92), son of the Politician Thomas Wyse and Letizia Bonaparte, and grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, was a curious mixture of many cultures: the only Irish member of the Felibrige, he wrote in Provencal, as well as in English. Born in Waterford, he became a captain in the Waterford Artillery and spent much of his working life in the army.

As a young man he travelled in the south of Europe, and while at Avignon was inspired by the work of the Félibres, who claim descent from the ancient troubadours of Provence. He joined the society and became an impassioned student of the language, and remained the only Irish, and indeed the only foreign-born member of the society. He befriended Frederic Mistral, poet and lexicographer of Occitan, and later recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Bonaparte-Wyse wrote a series of lyrics and sonnets in French, English, and the Provençal branch of Occitan. Perhaps his most well-received work was ‘Li Parpaioun Blu’, published in 1868, with a foreword by Mistral. He presided over the great félibréennes festivals of Forcalquier in 1882, and published numerous plays in Occitan.

Interestingly, Constant Hennion, who provided the French version present in this volume, was also a prominent scholar of Provencal language and literature.

Another point of interest – the wife of Carlos I of Romania, Elizabeth of Wied, was a well-known poet, writing in German, French, English and Romanian under the penname ‘Carmen Sylva’. The friendship between Frederic Mistral and Elizabeth gained her the epithet ‘the Queen of the Felibras’.

Item number



Physical Description

Quarto (27.7 x 21.2 cm). 12 pp. incl. half-title and title.


Original printed wrappers.


Wrappers a bit spotted, illegible name to upper wrapper, occasional foxing; in attractive condition.

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