British innocent of poisoning

Frank McLynn, reviewing my book Napoleon Bonaparte: England's prisoner (Books, 17-31 December), claims that I make nothing of the theory that Napoleon was poisoned by one of his own courtiers, except to remark that such an idea will win favour only with "French Napoleonists and/or Anglophobes". I said nothing of the sort. What I did say was that if the theory is true, it disposes of the contention that it was the British who poisoned him. There has never been any proof of this allegation, which has not, I wrote, prevented it "being frequently repeated, above all by French Napoleonists and/or Anglophobes". This is a very different observation, I think you will agree, from the one McLynn misquotes.

Frank Giles
London W9

This article first appeared in the 14 January 2002 issue of the New Statesman, A kosher conspiracy?