Though all but three of Robert Sidney's 332 extant letters to his wife Barbara Gamage Sidney have been in the Sidney family archive, they have never previously been fully transcribed or edited. This edition of the surviving letters, which Sidney wrote to his wife when they were separated for long periods by his official duties at various continental locations, provides a wealth of information about the Sidneys' family life. They touch on matters such as family illnesses, the children's education, court gossip, finances, and the construction of additions to Penshurst Place, the seat of the Sidney family. The letters also offer an extraordinary record of an early-modern English household in which the wife was entrusted with the overall responsibility for the well-being of her family, and for managing a large estate in the absence of her husband. Sidney's letters show that, although his union with the wealthy Welsh heiress Barbara Gamage may have been engineered primarily for political and financial ends, clearly the couple enjoyed a happy and loving marriage. Their correspondence is full of endearments, and Robert frequently tells his wife how much he misses her and their beloved children, including his 'Malkin,' later Lady Mary Wroth. The volume includes an introduction and notes by the editors. It also includes contextual materials such as relevant sections on family matters from letters to Robert from his trusted agent, Rowland Whyte; and from Robert Sidney's own business correspondence. The introduction specifically addresses the issue of Barbara's literacy, within the broader context of late-Elizabethan women's literacy.
Prize: Honorable Mention for the Josephine Roberts Edition Prize, awarded by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women in 2006 ’… this authoritative text provides a fascinating and detailed biographical introduction to the lives of the correspondents and the historical context of Robert Sidney's letters… This meticulously edited collection will also no doubt bring him renewed attention.’ The Year's Work in English Studies
Contents: General editor's preface; Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Illustrations, Sidney family tree; Sidney family alliances reflected in correspondence; Introduction; Letters about accounts; Principles of modernization; A note on the text; General description of the De L'Isle and Dudley letters; The letters; Persons and places; Appendix: 'To Penshurst'; Index.