Author: Alain Kerhervé
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Category: Literary Criticism
How did people learn to write letters in the eighteenth century? Among other books, letter-writing manuals provided a possible solution. Although more than 160 editions can be traced for the eighteenth century, most manuals were largely intended for men. As a consequence, when The Ladies Complete Letter-Writer was released in London in 1763, it was the first manual to be exclusively destined for women in eighteenth-century Britain. Even though it was published anonymously, several elements tend to show that it must have been edited by Edward Kimber. It was reprinted in Dublin in 1763 and in London in 1765 and largely circulated. The reasons for its success may have come from its concern in epistolary rhetoric, its original organisation, or the entertainment provided by examples coming from different sources, among which letters by Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Mary Collier, or the Marquise de Lambert. It also provided women with a variety of subjects which were supposed to be part of their sphere of interest, and others which were not, thus questioning a number of pre-conceived ideas on women and their way of writing with or without propriety. Unedited since 1765, the manual is now presented with introduction, notes and two indices focusing on the issues of sources, society and epistolary writing.