Elizabeth Carter, 1717-1806: An Edition of Some Unpublished Letters

Elizabeth Carter, 1717-1806: An Edition of Some Unpublished Letters

Elizabeth Carter, 1717-1806: An Edition of Some Unpublished Letters

Elizabeth Carter, 1717-1806: An Edition of Some Unpublished Letters

Synopsis

This edition includes 111 letters and a brief note. Written by Miss Carter, they date from October 1737 to May 1804, less than two years before her death, they have not been published before and are a very small portion of the thousands of letters that she sent and received. Part of their value lies in the fact that they provide a better understanding of the learned, religious person whom her nephew, Montagu Pennington, wishes to portray in his Memoirs of Miss Carter. They show how generous and dependable a friend she was; how faithful in keeping contact; how witty and lighthearted she could be; and how serious. Gwen Hampshire is retired from Oxford University where she held appointments as Librarian at several colleges.

Excerpt

This edition of unpublished letters written by Miss Elizabeth Carter includes 111 letters and one brief note. They are dated from 23 October 1737 to 30 May 1804—almost to the end of her life. She died on 19 February 1806. None have been published in any previous edition. They are a very small portion of the thousands which Miss Carter sent and received, and it is sad that in spite of most determined searches and enquiries made of descendants still living in the twentieth century, no more have been found, as yet. They are valuable because they allow not only a better understanding of the learned and religious person whom the Reverend Montagu Pennington, Miss Carter’s executor and biographer, wished to portray in his publications, but because they show, as well, how generous and dependable a friend she was, how faithful in keeping contact with those friends, how witty and lighthearted she could be, and how serious. Her strong belief in the duties required of Christians in this life and her certainty of a life to come never waivered. Her interest in literature and history, in politics as they affect mankind, and in the beauty of the world lasted until the end of her life.

Montagu Pennington published Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter with a new edition of her Poems …, in 1807, the year after her death. He held the view (current at the time) that the purpose of biography was to improve and instruct the mind by recounting the lives of the good, wise, and learned. the Memoirs are interspersed with letters and parts of letters by and to Miss Carter, his selections and omissions being made to that stated aim of biography. With the same objective in mind he published A Series of Letters between Mrs. Elizabeth Carter and Miss Catherine Talbot from the Year 1741 to 1770 (1808), and, in 1817, Letters from Mrs. Elizabeth Carter to Mrs. Montagu between the Years 1755 and 1800. the manuscripts of these letters have not been found.

In this edition of the unpublished letters, the letters are as . . .

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