William Gilpin’s Letter-Writer
Among the numerous letter-writing manuals which were printed in eighteenth-century Britain, a few were authored by such famous novelists as Samuel Richardson or Daniel Defoe.
The present volume is a first-time edition of an autograph manual devised by William Gilpin, commonly known as one of the theoreticians of the picturesque, which he intended either for individual use in the schools he was teaching or for publication.
The manual was exclusively devised for boys and men. Although its primary purpose was to provide models of letters on various occasions (at school, in apprenticeship, in debts, in mourning), its content is also partly fictional, since several groups of letters provide short stories about the lives of young soldiers writing home, reformed rakes making a fortune in India or fathers trying to correct their sons’ misdemeanours. The whole tone is highly moral, since the manual was also conceived as a work of edification. As such, it is an excellent counterpart to the correspondence which William Gilpin exchanged with his grandson, William Writes to William: The Correspondence of William Gilpin (1724–1804) and his Grandson William (1789–1811) (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014).
The manual is presented with an introduction, notes, index and appendix of a list of eighteenth-century letter-writing manuals, focusing on the issues of sources, society and epistolary writing.
Alain Kerhervé is a Professor in English at the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines Victor Segalen, Brest, Brittany, France. He is a member of the HCTI research laboratory and of the Société d’Etudes anglo-américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. He wrote a book on Mary Delany (1700–1788), published by L’Harmattan in 2004, and edited letters from and to Mary Delany (Polite Letters, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and a letter-writing manual (The Ladies Complete Letter-Writer, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010).
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