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.