Lucky: When you’re an academic AND you discover letters of a well-established writer at the ‘click of a mouse’ you get MEGA-PRESS coverage! My Smiths & Goslings should be only so lucky…
(Those of you sharing your letters, diaries, & images with me, know who you are; thank you!)
But on to the BIG news
Professor Nora Crook‘s “re-discovery” during on online search uncovered – at the ESSEX RECORD OFFICE, the repository where some Smith & Gosling diaries and letters reside! - unpublished letters by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. A fabulous find! And proves my point that you sometimes uncover TERRIFIC *finds* while looking for something completely different.
According to The Guardian, “The letters date between 1831, nine years after the death of her poet husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and 1849, when Mary Shelley was already unwell with the brain tumour that would kill her two years later, and show a woman who was skilled in charming favours from friends, bursting with pride in and concern for her teenage son – and not unconcerned with frivolities. A last-minute ticket to the coronation of William IV in 1831 necessitated a 3am visit from her hairdresser; she attended the event sporting a plumed headdress (‘The whole thing was wondrously splendid – Diamonds & cloth of gold grew common to the eye.’)”
Even the ‘seal’ (see Keith Crook’s photo) was previously unknown.
” ‘Pure serendipity,’ ” says Prof. Crook, ” ‘The [Horace] Smith connection has been known but this little bit of the jigsaw hasn’t been’ “.
The comments, especially of ARCHIVISTSN, should be included in your perusal of the article.
ERO features the letters as their January 2014 “YOUR FAVOURITE ERO DOCUMENT”: read their article.
The thirteen letters are to be published in an upcoming Keats-Shelley Journal.