The Collected Letters of Charlotte Smith

The Collected Letters of Charlotte Smith

Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/02/2003
Format: Hardback 7 b&w photos, 1 figures
ISBN: 978-0-253-34012-2
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One of the most popular poets of her time, Charlotte Smith revived the sonnet form in England, influencing Wordsworth and Keats. Equally popular as a novelist, she experimented with many genres, and even her children’s books were highly regarded by her contemporaries. Charlotte Smith’s letters enlarge our understanding of her literary achievement, for they show the private world of spirit, determination, anger, and sorrow in which she wrote.

Despite her family’s diligence in destroying her papers, almost 500 of Smith’s letters survived in 22 libraries, archives, and private collections. The present edition makes available most of these never-before-published letters to publishers, patrons, solicitors, relatives, and friends. As this volume was going to press, the Petworth House archives turned up 56 additional lost letters not seen in at least 100 years. Most are from Smith’s early career, along with two letters to her troublesome husband, Benjamin. The archives also preserved 50 letters by Benjamin, the only ones by him known to have survived. Two letters from Benjamin to Charlotte are reprinted in full, and generous excerpts from the rest are included in footnotes, bringing a shadowy figure to life.

Author Bio

Charlotte Smith. English novelist, poet, and translator. Author of Emmeline, or the Orphan of the Castle(1788), Celestina(1792), Desmond(1792), The Old Manor House (1793), The Banished Man(1794), and The Young Philosopher (1798), novels; and of Sonnets(1784), and the poem Beach Head(1807). She also translated the French novel Manon Lescaut(1731) by Abbé Prévost, and accounts of several famous trials from Les Causes Célèbres, which appeared (1786) as The Romance of Real Life.

Judith Phillips Stanton has taught courses in women’s studies and feminist theory at Clemson University. She has published articles on Charlotte Smith and statistical studies of trends in 18th-century women’s writing.

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Table of Contents


Introduction to Charlotte Smith's Letters
Charlotte Smith as an Author
The Business of Richard Smith's Will
Charlotte Smith's Character
The Achievement of Charlotte Smith
Sources of the Letters
Textual Principles
Holograph Letters
Copies and Printed Sources
Headings and Postscripts to Letters

1763-1790 "the horror of the abyss"
1791-92 "hope long delay'd"
1793 "a new course of suffering"
1794 "a state of anxiety"
1795 "overwhelmd with sorrow"
1796 "a wanderer upon Earth"
1797 "a necessitous author"
1798-1800 "Lord Egremont's extraordinary kindness"
1801 "domestic miseries"
1802 "petty duns, and continual want"
1803 "an houseless beggar"
1804 "the best of the bunch"
1805-1806 "a prison and a grave"

Works Consulted
Biographical Notes on Correspondents