“Dead Men Telling Tales: Napoleonic War Veterans and the Military Memoir Industry, 1808-1914” – Matilda Greig (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelone) – Franco-British History Seminar

Posted on January 27, 2022

27 January 2022 - 17 h 00 min - 19 h 00 min

Matilda Greig (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelone) will talk about her book, Dead Men Telling Tales: Napoleonic War Veterans and the Military Memoir Industry, 1808-1914 (Oxford, 2021)

As Napoleon’s wars drew to a close in 1815, a series of ripples flowed out into the publishing world. Veterans of the different campaigns had begun releasing memoirs of their experiences, in greater numbers than ever before, and with the help of descendants, publishers and translators, the tide would continue until well into the twentieth century. In this discussion of my book, Dead Men Telling Tales: Napoleonic War Veterans and the Military Memoir Industry, 1808-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2021), I explore the impact these personal stories had upon the history and representation of this period. Taking the Peninsular War as my case study, I show how the ‘soldier’s tale’ evolved differently in Spain versus France and Britain, how national histories of the same war remained starkly opposing over time, and how veterans themselves played an active role in the publication of their work. I conclude by considering the ironic legacy these books and their lasting commercial success left for the First World War generation – a myth of war as a positive, exciting and masculine experience, where quick victory was possible and glory could be won.

Franco-British History Seminar

The  History Seminar Franco-Britannique has been organised since 2000 at the University Paris-Sorbonne, now in partnership with the Institute of historical Research, London, and with the following research centres: AGORA (Cergy Pontoise), CREA (Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense), CREW (Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle),  CRULH (Lorraine), LARCA (Université de Paris) and the  Maison française d’Oxford. Every year, the programme conveys the latest insights from foreign and French-based researchers in British history, medieval, modern and contemporary British history. Phd and master degree students as well as all researchers with an interest in British history are welcome.

Sessions on Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm.

At the Maison de recherché de l’université Paris-Sorbonne (28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e).

Room D421 (screens at the entrance confirm location)

The year’s programme is on the SFB website HERE

Talks are taped and archived on the website of the Institute of historical Research Here.


  • Thursday 27 January 2022: Matilda Greig (Pompeu Fabra, Barcelone), ‘Dead Men Telling Tales: Napoleonic War Veterans and the Military Memoir Industry, 1808-1914’
  • Thursday 3 February: Robert Poole (Central Lancashire), ‘After Peterloo: the British Risings of 1819-20’
  • Thursday 10 February: Christian Liddy (Durham), ‘Towns and Lords in Late Medieval England and Continental Europe’
  • Thursday 17 February: Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (University College London):  ‘No More Walls. Homelessness in London after 1945’
  • Thursday 24 February: Niall O’Flaherty (King’s College London) : ‘Malthus and the Discovery of Poverty’
  • Thursday 10 March: Andrew Mackillop (Glasgow), ‘Scots in long eighteenth-century London’
  • Thursday 17 March: Thomas C. Jones (Buckingham) : “The Foreign Jews Protection Committee: refugee protection and relief in First World War Britain”
  • Thursday 24 March: Nigel Leask (Glasgow) : “‘As Little Known as… Kamtschatka’: Reflection on the Highland Tour in the Long 18th Century’
  • Thursday 31 March: Hugh McLeod (Birmingham), on his book Le déclin de la chrétienté en Occident. Autour de la crise religieuse des années 1960 (traduit par Elise Trogrlic, Labor et Fides, 2021)
  • Thursday 7 April: Barbara Crosbie (Durham) : ‘The Rising Generations: Age Relations and Cultural Change in Eighteenth-Century England’
  • Thursday 14 April: Chris Manias (Kings College London), ‘The Age of Mammals: Nature, Development and Palaeontology in the long nineteenth century’
  • Thursday 21 April: Emma Griffin (East Anglia), on her book Bread Winner. An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (Yale University Press, 2020)
  • Thursday 12 May: Laura King (Leeds), ‘The School Case of Poor Harold: Families’ multi-generational remembrance of deceased children in twentieth-century England’