Jane Carlyle: Newly Selected Letters, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Jane Carlyle

Newly Selected Letters, 1st Edition

By Kenneth J. Fielding

Edited by David R. Sorensen


384 pages

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Hardback: 9780754601371
pub: 2004-03-28
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This new selection of the letters of Jane Welsh Carlyle presents a complete view of a remarkable Victorian woman, with a wide circle of friends, who enjoyed the company of distinguished thinkers, writers, politicians, feminists, eccentrics and radicals. This edition draws on many remarkable letters and papers not published before, in which she created a memorable epistolary voice - shrewd, vigorous, ironic, observant, humorous and passionate. Previous selections have often tamely followed the semi-mythical version of her life first given by Carlyle’s biographer, James Anthony Froude, showing her as the victimized angel in distress. This new selection gives a rounded picture of her complex character, showing her as a tormented yet forceful woman who was a strong personality in her own right. She now emerges as a self-conscious artist, adept at constructing images of herself that were designed to appeal to her particular correspondents. The account is written with close attention to Jane Carlyle's long-running jealousy of Lady Harriet Ashburton; and fresh letters include many to her mother and her vital response to her passionate lover or admirer Charlotte Cushman. Each letter is a tightly controlled performance, which justifies Thomas Carlyle’s belief that her letters equal and surpass whatever of best I know to exist in that kind.


'The kind of pleasure one takes in reading Jane Carlyle's letters is akin to that felt on reading a good novel.' Times Literary Supplement 'Jane Carlyle is unsurpassed among women letter-writers for wit and graphic power. … Jane found relief from her frustration in curiosity, sharp humor and an effortless command of words. She knew some of the most interesting people of her time, too. She conjures up scenes and incidents with a vividness that makes you wonder why she didn't become one of the great Victorian novelists.' John Gross, The Wall Street Journal 'Everyone knows the story of J. S. Mill’s maid accidentally burning part of Carlyle’s manuscript of The French Revolution. But Jane made her own less celebrated fire deliberately, after she caught George Craik reading her journal and decided that it was too dangerously intimate to exist. Reading these marvellous letters, with their vividness and wit, one can only mourn the loss. ' The Spectator '… a valuable addition to our understanding of a brilliant and fascinating woman.' The Herald 'The introduction and notation are excellent and the selection probably gives us as accurate a portrayal of Jane Carlyle (and her world) as is possible.' Contemporary Review 'This is part of a handsome series The Nineteenth Century edited from the University of Leicester, and it affords an opportunity for book-length assessments of topics […] and individuals… Professor Fielding and Sorensen have produced in this substantial anthology a richly detailed and authoritatively edited view which reinforces what we knew […] and opens out much that we did not, for the reason that much of what they now present is only recently discovered, and a great amount published for the first time… the letters selected here flesh out a wholly new Jane, and the newly-discovered material by her, and about her, give her a presence never before felt, an insight into her attitude to her husband, her society, into her religious beliefs a

Table of Contents

Contents: Editors' introduction: selecting Jane Carlyle's letters; Bibliography; Chronology; Editorial note; In search of genius, 1819-26; In these moors, 1828-34; This stirring life ” and a parting, 1834-42; Turned adrift in the world, 1842-45; Finding a mission, 1845-47; Looking out into the vague, 1847-49; Unease in Zion, 1850-56; Two interludes; Past mending, 1857-60; Spiritual magnetism, 1861-63; Like a dim nightmare, 1863-64; The perfectly extraordinary woman, 1865-66; Indexes.

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature