A life in letters
May 13, 2013 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Bess of Hardwick's Letters brings together the correspondence of one of the most powerful women of the Elizabethan era, the builder of one of England's greatest houses and the founder of one of its greatest political dynasties. As well as telling the story of Bess's life, it offers an introduction to early modern letters and a guide to reading early modern handwriting.
posted by verstegan (9 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
This is really cool. Among other things, I now know a whole new definition of the word Diplomatic.
posted by selfnoise at 11:11 AM on May 13, 2013

This is great! I have a little research side project that involves Bess and embroidery and I might find something in here...
posted by Marauding Ennui at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2013

Bonus link: Bess's music table at Hardwick Hall was recently brought to life by a sixteenth-century flash mob.
posted by verstegan at 11:22 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know of Bess of Hardwick only from a short story by Susanna Clarke, "Antickes and Frets", in The Ladies of Grace Adieu. So this is really exciting! Thanks for posting it.
posted by Frowner at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2013

Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fascinating! I found the twelve letters with commentary to be an excellent starting point.
posted by halcyonday at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2013

There's some academic debate about whether "one Morley" mentioned in this letter, a tutor to Arbella Stuart (who was possibly in line for the throne, and staying in Bess' household) might have been the playwright Christopher Marlowe. Points in favour of the identification include that she quotes him as saying he was "much damnified by leaving of the university" (Marlowe had recently left Cambridge, one of the only two universities, and there aren't many others it could be - the records still exist of all the students at the time), and that she had "some cause to be doubtful of his forwardness in religion" - Marlowe is now famous for having been an atheist. Fascinating stuff, thanks.
posted by iotic at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

That's fantastic, thanks. In those days before standardised spelling I wonder would people's orthographical idiosyncrasies reflect their own pronunciation and so be useful to historical linguists (is that a thing?) on that score too?
posted by Abiezer at 2:07 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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