Under current restrictions, our shops are closed to the public, but we are still processing online, telephone and email orders as normal.


The Life of Petrarch.

Collected from Memoires Pour la Vie de Petrarch.

London: Printed for James Buckland, 1775 Stock Code: 124338
Reserve Ask us a question

"The Directress of rational conversation"

First edition. "Susannah Dobson's first published work, in 1775, was an abridged translation in two volumes of Mémoires pour la vie de François Pétrarque, by Jacques François Paul Aldonce, abbé de Sade. According to Samuel Johnson, 'Mrs Dobson, the Directress of rational conversation, did not translate Petrarch; but epitomised a very bulky French life of Petrarch' (Letters of Samuel Johnson, 249). De Sade's work was extremely controversial: he claimed to prove the true identity of Petrarch's Laura and identified her with the Laura de Noves, wife of Hugues de Sade, on the basis of a sonnet found in her tomb in the De la Croix Chapel in Avignon. His work attracted the attention of Horace Walpole and Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee. The latter rejected de Sade's theory in his Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch. Susannah Dobson might have become interested in the work through Baretti's praise of it in his Manners and Customs of Italy (1768). Her reviewer in the Gentleman's Magazine praised Dobson's translation for maintaining 'that pathos and spirit of the original' and for a preface by Dobson intended, now that Laura was revealed to have been a married woman, 'to guard against the impression which such an attachment might otherwise make on susceptible hearts' (GM, 45, 1775, 186). Dobson's translation enjoyed long-lasting popularity, and by 1805 there had been one Irish and six English editions" (ODNB).

Confused? Read our glossary


2 volumes, octavo (218 x 138 mm). Contemporary tan calf, raised bands to spines, compartments decorated with geometric and floral designs in gilt, red and black labels, gilt edge roll.


Engraved frontispiece to vol. 1.


Bookplates to front pastedowns, ownership inscriptions to prelims. Wear and a little loss to spine ends, joints starting, rubbing to extremities, occasional foxing to text block, otherwise an excellent copy.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book