COLLECTIONS & RESEARCH

Ourika and the French Lieutenant’s Woman

The cover from the current English edition of  Ourika  translated by John Fowles.

The cover from the current English edition of Ourika translated by John Fowles.

A most interesting link between the town of Lyme Regis and people of African descent is actually invisible, but very much affects the way we see the town.

The heroine of John Fowles’ novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1968) was subconsciously inspired by a tiny French novel of 1825, Ourika , based on a true story.

Ourika tells the life of a black slave brought up by an aristocratic French family. John Fowles translated the novel from the French in 1977, and describes it as ‘a minor masterpiece’.

The literary connection, part of the inspiration for the novel, is difficult to see but important.

A selection of covers from the many editions of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, including Greek and Spanish translations.

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