Gustave Flaubert 1821-1880

Colour portrait by Eugène Giraud

You may wonder why Flaubert is included in the Lyndon web site, the reason is that Juliet Herbert, his English mistress, was a governess to the Conant family and letters about her still exist.

Below is a letter from Catherine Conant, that mentions Flaubert and two letters from Juliet Herbert to Eva Fowkes nee Conant .
Both women were daughters of Edward Nathaniel Conant 1820 - 1901

In 1980 the book
"Flaubert and an English Governess The Quest for Juliet Herbert"
by Hermia Oliver was published by Oxford University Press.

Hermia Oliver did some of her research at Lyndon Hall.

From the Times Literary Supplement March 12, 2008 Gustave Flaubert's last letters Julian Barnes reads between the lines of Flaubert's letters on sex, art, bankruptcy and cliffs

The case of Juliet Herbert is particularly instructive. Thirty years ago, the governess who tutored Flaubert’s niece Caroline was just a fleeting presence in the letters; she was the subject of a few laddish remarks between Flaubert and Louis Bouilhet, and also known to have completed the first (now lost) translation of Madame Bovary, which she worked on side by side with the author. But not a single letter between them has survived; nor has any photograph of Miss Herbert ever surfaced. In 1980 Hermia Oliver, in Flaubert and an English Governess, proposed that Juliet was a greater and more continuing presence in Flaubert’s life than previously assumed. And now the relationship is taken as not just lifelong but enduringly sexual, so that when in 1878 – two decades after Juliet ceased work at Croisset – Flaubert signs off to Laporte from Paris, “Je vous embrasse. Votre GEANT (qui f . . . comme un âne)”, the Pléiade edition soberly notes, “Perhaps an allusion to Juliet Herbert”. It is hard not to wonder what the Herbert family would have made of this.

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Fred's, & so they must belong more to Fred's people than yours - & Nellie wouldn't hear of it - at any rate she said she must have Fred's instead & certainly on that principle it is quite right, for he did endow you with all his worldly goods, so they must belong most to us - I fear they ended by taking both his & yours with them. We saw your flags out of the window Ever so long before you came - it was a very good plan.

When it does occur to you to write to me, mind it is a good long letter, full of every little tiny thing you do & say & think & feel & see & hear & taste & smell & touch, because that is that sort I like.

I am very nearly run out, but I must try & fill up this paper. The photo graphs of the house are good, I think. I am going to get one & frame it for my new room. I am going to turn in there after Whitby - What a lot of I's there are on this page, somehow. You really must answer this letter, it is so long & interesting.

Do you think you will go straight to Paris from Herefordshire? I wonder how you will like it. What fun if you came across Miss H. & Gustave!! You might ask them to tea, & tell us what he is like. No more room so goodbye [.]
Your very affec. sister
C. A. Conant


25 Milman St
Octr 7th

My dear Eva
What a long while since I heard from you! I hope you & yours are all very well, & that you are having a pleasant Autumn - are you as pleased as the rest at Kate's engagement? they all seem to like Mr Denman very much - I am very glad she has made her choice as she was rather difficult to please & I hope she will be very happy -

Nellie sent me a group she did at Lowesby of you all, & I am so pleased with it - you look so happy & Mr Fowke with his dog is so exactly like him - How is Mirrie? I always remember her with pleasure she always was so nice & kind to me, she looks very well in the group - Nell also sent me a photo she had taken of your little girl, what a pet she must be, she looks such a darling.

I have begun lessons again with Evelyn & Tom, they are dear little things & very good at their lessons, yesterday I met Amy at Emily's & today Ernest, it is very nice for me going there, as I get a peep of them all now & then - I think Ernest looks much better than when I saw him last -

We are having very pleasant weather here now, but it is much colder - How is your baby getting on? is he quite strong now & how are you?

Goodbye dearest Eva, with much love, hoping soon [?] to hear from you[.]
Always yrs very affately Juliet Herbert


Mrs Fowke

66 Mount Street
Park Lane
Octr 15th

My dearest Eva
I am very glad to hear you have got over your difficulties & congratulate [you] & Mr Fowke on the birth of your son - are you glad to have another boy? what will his name be? Beatrice was kind enough to write me news of you, you must take great care of yourself darling & keep very quiet.I am glad you have had the brothers & sisters to keep you company a bit, & that Freddy likes the beach so much.

I have just remembered that I don't know your address at Brighton! so I think I must send this to Nellie to forward to you - The weather is not very good in London, this morning there was a dense yellow fog, but it is clearing now -

Goodbye darling with best love to yourself & kind remembrances to a11 your circle[.]
Always yrs very affety
Juliet Herbert


With thanks to Gillian Pink, who whilst preparing her article "Les Lettres Du Grenier: Nouvel Eclairage Sur Julet Herbert, Amie De Flaubert" for the Voltaire Foundation, University of Oxford, transcribed the above letters.