Dorothy Osborne: Letters

(1614 words)
  • Kenneth Parker (University of East London)

The publication history and critical reception of the letters written clandestinely by Dorothy Osborne to William Temple provides ample evidence of the transformations in literary theory and cultural studies in the past 50 years. Heavily edited selections first appeared in 1936, as an appendix to the biography of the man to whom they were written, while the first otherwise excellent attempts at editions (1888; 1903; 1906; 1914; 1928) concentrated on reading them as evidence of quiet lives of the country gentry in the face of civil war. It was not until Virginia Woolf (1932) drew attention to the connection between the genre of letter-writing and class and gender that their qualities began to be re-assessed: not only as consummate …

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Parker, Kenneth. "Letters". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 October 2000
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]