Friday, February 12, 2010
The turbulent and violent period just after the onset of the French Revolution known as the Terror of 1793–1794, is the backdrop for University of Texas alumna Bette Oliver’s book “Orphans on the Earth” (Lexington Books 2009). The book tells the story of the Girondins, specifically those elected deputies who helped establish the new republic, and who would later became fugitives from their own government—hunted down by their political opponents the Jacobins.
The story draws on the memoirs of revolutionary leaders: François Buzot, Jerome Pétion, Charles Barbaroux and Jean-Baptiste Louvet, as well as the correspondence between Buzot and Madame Roland. Hiding for several months in the home and attached stone quarry of the deputy Guadet’s relatives, four of these fugitives wrote their memoirs before their presence was discovered. It is the first book to examine the lives of these Girondin fugitives during this period, after which only Louvet remained alive.
Oliver is a specialist in 18th century France and the author of “From Royal to National: The Louvre Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale” (2007). In addition to her work as a historian, she is the author of eight volumes of poetry, much of it about France.
She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism, master’s degree in European history, and a doctorate in modern European history; all from The University of Texas at Austin. She is the sister of the late Chad Oliver, who taught and served as chair for the university’s Anthropology Department several times; he died in 1993.