800 Years of Women's Letters
Penguin Books, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
In this engrossing anthology, the first truly comprehensive study of women's letters, Olga Kenyon takes us from the twelfth century to the present day and explores the tradition of female letter-writing that has existed for over eight centuries. Here is Heloise writing to Abelard's 'superior wisdom' of 'how much I have lost in you' from twelfth-century Paris; Margaret Paston, the efficient manager of her husband's estate, vividly describing her troubles in affectionate letters to her husband while he was practising law in London during the Wars of the Roses; Elizabeth I firmly but tactfully refusing Erik of Sweden's offer of marriage as she 'highly commends this single life'; Queen Victoria complaining to Sir Robert Peel about the 'disgrace' in the neglect of Buckingham Palace; Jane Austen writing to her sister Cassandra, and Fanny Burney on Dr Johnson; Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf exchanging intimate thoughts on their lives and writing; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu describing how, abandoned by her lover, she rebuilds her life and her garden in Italy 'enjoying every amusement that solitude can afford'; and many more lesser known women whose writing reveals much of their day to day lives and the sometimes restricted world they inhabited.
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