The Bourbons of Naples (1734-1825)

Harold Acton
Date Published
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Naples is one of Europe’s most fascinating cities and the ruling dynasty which left its mark more than any other was that of the Bourbons, who arrived in 1734 and were only displaced by the Unification of Italy in 1870. Before that time Naples was the largest of the Italian kingdoms and, with Pompeii and Vesuvius as its main attractions, it drew hundreds of aristocratic travellers and visitors in the 18th century. The city also attracted the armies of revolutionary France and the royal family escaped to Sicily thanks to Admiral Nelson.

The Bourbons of Naples was welcomed as a masterpiece at the time of first publication in 1956, and was chosen by Sir Osbert Sitwell as his book of the year. Sir Harold Acton (1904-1994) – famous aesthete and historian – brings 18th-century Naples vividly to life, with unforgettable characters such as Lady Hamilton and Nelson, royal eccentrics and plenty of court intrigue.

‘An elaborate comedy of manners played out over 700 pages.’ The Times


Harold Acton (1904-1994) was a writer, scholar and aesthete who listed as his principal recreation ‘hunting the philistines’. From the balcony of his Oxford rooms he famously declaimed passages from The Waste Land through a megaphone.He wrote in many different mediums, publishing nearly thirty books, with his poetry and fiction being markedly less successful than his other works.

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