Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg

(Item #5227) Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg. Sensational Memoir, Pauline Adelaide Alexandre Panam, Sexual Exposé.
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg
A tell-all memoir has ripple effects on European and British royal families for multiple generations
Memoirs of a Young Greek Lady; or, Madame Pauline Adelaide Alexandre, Panam, versus His Most Serene Highness the reigning Prince of Saxe-Cobourg

London: Sherwood, Jones & Co, 1823. First edition in English. Contemporary three-quarters calf over marbled boards with gilt and morocco to spine. All edges marbled. Measuring 185 x 115mm and collating complete including frontis and one additional plate: [2], xv, [3],305, [1, blank]. A lovely, square copy with faint splashmark to lower spine; internally crisp and unmarked. One of two editions put out by different publishers in the same year, with no clear priority; each is equally scarce with OCLC reporting fewer than 20 of either imprint. Since 1900, it has made only three appearances at auction with the most recent being in 1955. This is the only example on the market.

Published the same year in France and England, the sensational memoir by the actress known as La Belle Greque presents a tell-all about her seduction, affair, pregnancy, and abandonment by the womanizing Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg. It was a move motivated by anger and financial need, and fueled by a desire to rebuild a reputation that had been sullied by a man more powerful than herself. "Madame Panam's Memoirs are the history of youth, and beauty, and hope, all blighted and destroyed by indiscretion...there is no doubt that when she first captivated the Duke of Saxe-Cobourg, she was vain enough to believe she might one day be a princess! Had she sought an honorable connexion in her own class of life, she might at this day have been the light of a happy and virtuous home." Her book resembles the popular Scandalous Memoir genre favored by courtesans of the period, insofar as it begins with her seduction at age 15 after she is cross-dressed and trafficked into Cobourg at the Duke's command and has the intention of improving her finances either through sales or bribes; yet the repentance and regret it contains notably separate it from those of other courtesans and mistresses who use their publications for self-empowerment. "She survives to repent of her errors and to admonish all her sex to shun the silken bowers which attracted only to deceive her."

Casting herself as a repentant victim who became complicit in sinning, Panam also carves out space for her son to be an innocent heir displaced from his rightful inheritance. Giving birth to a boy in 1809, Panam named her son after his father despite being offered "a pension if she refrained from identifying herself with the Duke and...eschewing the name Ernst if a boy" was born to her (Weintraub). Appealing to powerful members of the family and the court, Panam threatened to make the details of the affair and pregnancy public if her son went unrecognized. The release of this memoir fulfilled that promise, and the Duke was unable to suppress its publication in France or England. Its release through two different London publishers would, down the road, support further rumors and speculation about the family as Ernst I's son Albert married Queen Victoria and became her consort.
(Item #5227)

Price: $2,250