Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Letters of Samuel Wesley: Professional and Social Correspondence, 1797-1837/samuel Wesley (1766-1837): A Source Book

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Letters of Samuel Wesley: Professional and Social Correspondence, 1797-1837/samuel Wesley (1766-1837): A Source Book

Article excerpt

PHILIP OLLESON, ED. The Letters of Samuel Wesley: Professional and Social Correspondence, 1797-1837. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2001. Pp. 516 + Ixiii, preface, chronology, biographical introduction, index. $115.00.

MICHAEL KASSLER AND PHILIP OLLESON, EDS. Samuel Wesley (1766-1837): A Source Book. Aldershot, Hampshire, England, and Brookfield, Vermont: Ashgate, 2001. Pp. 765 + xxiii, preface. $114.95.

These two volumes add up to an outstanding scholarly resource that will interest greatly scholars from music to history to religion. Samuel Wesley, nephew of John Wesley and son of Charles, the founders of Methodism, stood among the most distinguished English musicians of his time. He held a variety of positions as organist, was an expert in organ building and maintenance, composed voraciously in both sacred and secular idioms, wrote widely on music, and had a hand in a whole host of concert endeavors. He converted to Roman Catholicism at age eighteen, but worked closely with Anglican musicians. He went to debtors prison for a year and was put into an insane asylum at one point. More than 1,100 letters by or to him are presently known; the two books serve as the culmination of a century and a half of dedicated work by scholars of Methodism and English music.

The Source Book is an extremely useful, immaculately prepared guide to the letters and many things about Wesley's life. Michael Kassler and Philip Olleson have included a chronology of his life, details about his relations and the places where he lived, and lists of his known writings, compositions, editions, and portraits. But their main job has been making a detailed calendar of all the known letters, summarizing their contents, and indicating their present location. …

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