An Audience of One: Dorothy Osborne's Letters to Sir William by Carrie Hintz

By Carrie Hintz

When first released in 1888, the letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple - written among 1652 and 1654 - created a type of cult phenomenon within the Victorian interval. Osborne and Temple, either of their early twenties, shared a romance that was once adverse by means of their households, and Osborne herself used to be virtually regularly less than surveillance. Osborne's letters offer a unprecedented glimpse into an early smooth woman's lifestyles at a pivotal element, as she attempted to discover the way to marry for romance in addition to fulfil her duties to her family.

Combining historic and biographical examine with feminist idea, Carrie Hintz considers Osborne's imaginative and prescient of letter writing, her literary fulfillment, and her literary impacts. Osborne has lengthy been ignored as a author, creating a accomplished and thorough research lengthy past due. whereas the nineteenth-century reception of the letters is testomony to the long-lasting public fascination with constrained love narratives, Osborne's eloquent and outspoken articulation of her expectancies and wishes additionally makes her letters compelling in our personal time.

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Extra resources for An Audience of One: Dorothy Osborne's Letters to Sir William Temple, 1652-1654

Sample text

Osborne might have found the dissemination of the letters in print 42 An Audience of One strange at best and unwelcome at worst. They were meant for one reader. Virginia Woolf s attempt to place her in the tradition of women's writing would likely have been foreign to her, and there is no evidence (as there is for Cavendish) that she ever thought her writing would be subject to critical analysis. But Osborne thought seriously about her purpose in writing, and was obviously aware of what Lerch-Davis terms the 'epistolary decorums' of early modern letter writing.

The life of an unmarried woman, even an upper-class woman, was difficult in many ways. A career was not available as an outlet for her intellectual abilities or to satisfy her material needs. After her father died, Osborne was compelled to move to the household of her brotherin-law Thomas Peyton, leaving Chicksands, where she had nursed her father before his death. '18 Osborne came from the gentry, not the aristocracy, but Amussen is correct about Osborne's situation after her father's death. Osborne complained bitterly about many aspects of her life in the Peyton household, including lack of privacy.

Rather than shield her letters from the vagaries of shipwreck and fire, Osborne expected Temple to destroy them, ensuring that they did not reach the prying eyes of family and other voyeuristic individuals, although he obviously did not do so. '4 The less lively post-marital letters, however, do not prove that Osborne did not have artistic intentions at any time in her life. Nor does the fact that she eschewed print publication demonstrate a lack of aesthetic self-consciousness. Osborne might have found the dissemination of the letters in print 42 An Audience of One strange at best and unwelcome at worst.

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