A Literary Tour de France
Copies de Lettres

The eleven large, folio volumes of “Copies de lettres” contain slightly abridged copies of letters that the STN sent to its correspondents.  They are written in the hands of the STN’s clerks, who used standard abbreviations (e.g. “pr” for “pour”), and they have indexes.  In some cases, the clerks prepared the index, adding references to the page numbers of the copies as they wrote them.  In other cases, an index was prepared by John Jeanprêtre, who catalogued the STN archives during his retirement.  Beginning in ms 1105, the volume that runs from February 1778 to July 1779, the clerks added notes that look like fractions in the margin next to each letter.  The number in the place of the numerator refers to the page where the last letter to that correspondent appeared, and the number in the place of the denominator indicates the page in which the next letter appeared.  By using the indexes and the margin notes along with the dossiers containing the letters received by the STN, one can follow both sides of the running dialogue that the STN maintained with other publishers, booksellers, smugglers, shipping agents, paper millers, authors, government officials, and other persons involved in the book trade. 

 The volumes cover the period from July 1769 to October 1789.  The STN usually kept two Copies de lettres going at the same time, perhaps because its partners dictated letters to its clerks from different locations; so there is a good deal of overlap in the dates.  For example, ms. 1098, the Copie de lettres marked as “C1” by the STN, covers the period March 1772-April 1774, and ms 1099, the Copie de lettres marked “C2”, covers February 1773-April 1774.  The volumes included letters sent to all kinds of correspondents in all locations until July 1779, when the STN began to devote a separate volume, marked “H1”, to correspondents located outside France and Switzerland.  The volume “H2”, which probably contained copies of letters addressed to French correspondents from July 1779 to October 1780, is missing.  In fact, a close reading of all the volumes shows that several are missing.  The biggest gaps occur from January 1772 to March 1773, from mid-April 1774 to late June 1775, and from January 1782 to August 1784.  Also, ms 1110, which covers the period from August 1784 to June 1787, is missing at least 200 pages, as one can tell from the pagination; and its index, prepared by the STN, lacks the pages covering the letters A through P.

Each volume occupies a separate place on the web site.  They are:

Warning, these files are very large and may take a long time to download.  File sizes are provided below for your convenience.

Description Filename File Size
July 1769-December 1771 Ms. 1095 324 MB
August 1771-January 1772 Ms. 1096 355 MB
Index by Jeanprêtre for 1769-1772 Ms. 1097 36 MB
March 1772-April 1774 Ms. 1098 457 MB
February 1773-April 1774 Ms. 1099 463 MB
Index by STN for 1773-1774 Ms. 1100 45 MB
June 1775-December 1776 Ms. 1101 1.6 GB
Index by Jeanprêtre for 1775-1776 Ms. 1102 13 MB
January 1777-February 1778 Ms. 1103 417 MB
index by Jeanprêtre for 1777-1778 Ms. 1104 12 MB
February 1778-July 1779 Ms. 1105 549 MB
Index by STN for 1778-1779 Ms. 1106 74 MB
Index by Jeanprêtre for 1778-1779 Ms. 1107 41 MB
July 1779-October 1780 with index by STN, letters to non-French correspondents Ms. 1108 928 MB
October 1780-December 1781 with index by STN, letters to French correspondents Ms. 1109 916 MB
August 1784-June 1787 with index by STN, letters A-P missing, and at least 200 pages of text missing Ms. 1110 1.1 GB
Index by Jeanprêtre for 1784-1787 Ms. 1111 32 MB
November 1786-October 1789 Ms. 1112 963 MB