He has been dead for nearly two centuries but such is the enduring pull exerted by Napoleon Bonaparte on the French that this week he received a letter from the country's statistics agency.

The letter, addressed in typed letters to Bonaparte, Napoleon, was despatched to 3 Rue Saint Charles in Ajaccio – just next door to the former emperor's birthplace, which is now a museum dedicated to his memory. The person who received the letter, the current resident of 3 Rue Saint Charles, clearly had a sense of humour – he or she marked it 'return to sender', scrawling a note beneath the address: "Died in 1821 – please forward with a prayer to Saint Peter."

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