The Correspondence of Richard Steele

The Correspondence of Richard Steele

The Correspondence of Richard Steele

The Correspondence of Richard Steele

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to give a record as complete as possible of the correspondence of Richard Steele. In Parts I and II are given all known letters of a private nature written by Steele, and as commentary on his own those written to him and a few relating to him. In all there are 668 letters, of which 592 were written by him and 62 to him. In Part III are the dedications of his works--formal, printed letters addressed to friends and patrons, 33 in number; his memorials and petitions; and a special group of his personal letters existing only in printed form and presumably adapted from the originals for a particular purpose.

The foundation for the collection is The Epistolary Correspondence of Sir Richard Steele, published by John Nichols in 1787 and republished with additional letters in 1809 (two volumes consecutively paged and frequently bound together). This work contains the entire collection of Steele's notes and letters to Mrs. Steele, the originals of which Nichols purchased from the Steele family and presented to the British Museum, preserved there as MSS. 5145 A B C; several letters printed in scattered places during the eighteenth century--for example, those to John Hughes, Joseph Keally, Swift, and Pope; the dedications; and a few letters from his correspondents.

Since the publication of the second edition of the work by Nichols in 1809, no effort has been made to collect and edit the correspondence of Steele. In the meantime about 120 new letters and drafts of letters written by him and some 45 written to him have come to light. Both the old and the new have been used illustratively--many entire but the greater number only in part or in summary--by Steele's biographers, who, however, in no sense have attempted to edit them as a whole. The chief biographers making use of them are: Henry R. Montgomery , Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Sir Richard Steele (1865); Austin Dobson, Richard Steele (1886); George A. Aitken, The Life of Richard Steele (1889); and Willard Connely, Sir Richard Steele (1934). There has been one selected edition for the general reader: R. Brimley Johnson, The Letters of Richard Steele (1927).

Since 1809 the chief printed sources of new Steele letters have been as follows:

In December 1868 four to Henry Gascoigne and Lady . . .

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