The Pen and the People: English Letter Writers 1660-1800

Paperback | April 24, 2011

bySusan Whyman

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Susan Whyman draws on a hidden world of previously unknown letter writers to explore bold new ideas about the history of writing, reading, and the novel. Capturing actual dialogues of people discussing subjects as diverse as marriage, poverty, poetry, and the emotional lives of servants, ThePen and the People will be enjoyed by everyone interested in history, literature, and the intimate experiences of ordinary people. Based on over sixty previously unknown collections of family papers, it tells the stories of workers and the middling sort: a Yorkshire bridle maker, a female domestic servant, a Derbyshire wheelwright, an untrained woman writing poetry and short stories, as well as merchants and their families.Their ordinary backgrounds and extraordinary writings challenge accepted views that popular literacy was rare in England before 1800. This democratization of letter writing could never have occurred without the development of the Royal Mail. Drawing on new information gleaned from personal letters, Susan Whyman reveals how the Post Office had altered the rhythms of daily life long before the nineteenth century. As the pen, thepost, and the people became increasingly connected, so too was eighteenth-century society and culture slowly and subtly transformed.

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From the Publisher

Susan Whyman draws on a hidden world of previously unknown letter writers to explore bold new ideas about the history of writing, reading, and the novel. Capturing actual dialogues of people discussing subjects as diverse as marriage, poverty, poetry, and the emotional lives of servants, ThePen and the People will be enjoyed by everyon...

Susan E. Whyman returned to the academic world after a career that encompassed the publishing, editing, and library professions. She received both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in British History from Princeton University. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has been a visiting scholar at Wadham College, Oxford and the Huntin...

other books by Susan Whyman

Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pagesPublished:April 24, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199602182

ISBN - 13:9780199602186

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Table of Contents

Part One: Creating a Culture of LettersIntroduction: The Pen, the Post, and the People1. Creating the Letter - How to Acquire Epistolary Literacy2. Sending the Letter - The Post Office and the Politics of the MailPart Two: Creating a Culture of Literacy3. Letters and Literacy - Farmers and Workers in Northern England4. Letters of the Middling-Sort - Confronting Problems of Business, Religion, Gender, and ClassPart Three: From Letters to Literature5. Letter Writing and the Rise of the Novel - The Epistolary Literacy of Jane Johnson and Samuel Richardson6. Letter Writing, Reading, and Literary Culture - The Johnson Family and Anna MillerConclusion: Letter Writing and Eighteenth-Century Culture - Findings, Patterns, and ImpactsAppendices

Editorial Reviews

"This is a fascinating book. Susan Whyman is to be applauded for following one excellent social history with another." --Rosemary O'Day, Journal of British Studies