The Lives and Letters of an Eighteenth-century Circle of Acquaintance

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Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006 - Literary Collections - 295 pages
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In recent years, there has been a remarkable resurgence of interest in women's letters, for they tell us much about women's and men's lives. The Lydia Clerke letters, which form the basis of this book, are no exception. Including 31 letters written by nine different people, they render an intimate portrait of English life during the second half of the eighteenth century. Meticulous transcriptions of the letters are accompanied by interpretive essays which provide historical and biographical contexts. Illuminated by extensive archival research, the letters give new insight into the importance of female friendship, the predicament of the woman intellectual, the sexual vulnerability and power of the young unmarried woman in aristocratic society, and the economic and emotional instability of wives even in companionate marriage. The letters also touch on the volatile world of eighteenth-century India and on the courage and cruelty of the men who built the British Empire

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Contents

Preamble
3
The Rise of the Novel the Death of the Author and the Lydia Clerke Letters
13
The Letters the Letter Writers and Their Worlds
23
Overview
25
John Clerke
33
Thomas Winstanley
43
Susannah Dobson
55
Ann Clerke One
87
Ann Clerke Four
151
Sylvia Brathwaite
157
Authors Collection
201
Sylvia Thornton
203
Sylvia Parkhurst
217
Sarah Clerke
223
courtesy of the Essex Record Office
226
Closing the Circle
235

Charles Clerke One
93
Charles Clerke Two
103
Ann Clerke Two
115
Charlotte Lennox
121
Ann Clerke Three
145
Biographical Sketches of the Letter Writers
249
Chronology
259
Index
283
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Temma Berg is Professor of English at Gettysburg College, USA.

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