A Short History of Les Editions Nagel

Gilbert R Martineau (1918-1995) was a French naval officer, author of books on Napoleon and his family, honorary consul, and curator of the French properties on St Helena, 1956-1987.

An anglophile, he was living in London when war broke out in 1939, and he joined the Free French in 1940. His wartime service included a period on a British submarine, and service in Mauritania. On demobilization in 1945 he joined the French Naval Reserve, and was called back into the service in 1954-1955. After the war he worked as Director of Publications for Nagel, and was part of an intellectual circle that included Rosemonde Gérard, Maurice Rostand, Serge Lifar, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau and Prince Félix Youssoupoff.

“A Guide-book can only give full details of the history, the whereabouts and the conditions of the most interesting places but it is the visitor’s personal experiences that will enable him to understand and appreciate the Parisian himself – which is by no means easy.  A few days in Paris will quickly reveal though, the reason why Paris remains, despite the political emphasis elsewhere, one of the most attractive cities of the world.”

(Preface to Nagel’s Paris; 1950 – Gilbert R Martineau, Director of Publications)

In 1956 he decided to take up an appointment on the remote British Island of St Helena as honorary consul and curator of the French properties, a position which he held until 1987. He continued to live at Longwood House for the rest of his life. As well as devoting himself to the restoration of the properties, he was also a prolific author. He died in La Rochelle in 1995.

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