By Carrie Hintz
When first released in 1888, the letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple - written among 1652 and 1654 - created a type of cult phenomenon within the Victorian interval. Osborne and Temple, either of their early twenties, shared a romance that was once adverse by means of their households, and Osborne herself used to be virtually regularly below surveillance. Osborne's letters supply a unprecedented glimpse into an early smooth woman's existence at a pivotal element, as she attempted to discover how to marry for romance in addition to fulfil her duties to her family.
Combining historic and biographical examine with feminist conception, Carrie Hintz considers Osborne's imaginative and prescient of letter writing, her literary success, and her literary affects. Osborne has lengthy been neglected as a author, creating a finished and thorough research lengthy past due. whereas the nineteenth-century reception of the letters is testomony to the iconic public fascination with constrained love narratives, Osborne's eloquent and outspoken articulation of her expectancies and needs additionally makes her letters compelling in our personal time.
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Extra info for An Audience of One: Dorothy Osborne's Letters to Sir William Temple, 1652-1654
I knew a Lady that rather then she would want an occasion to bee Cruell, made it a fault in her Servant that hee Loved her too much, and another, that hee was not Jealous of her. Sure they forsee their Raign's are to bee but short and that makes them such Tyrants. (129) This could be read as a lamentation on women's inability to hold power in interpersonal relationships - any power women might exercise was, ultimately, illusory. To become accustomed to power was to invite disappointment. In rejecting power for herself, Osborne may have been trying to steer Temple toward a marital relationship where the husband's authority was more lenient by setting an example of mellowness.
The judicial language in her comment indicates that she was to at least some degree wrangling with ethical issues and moral responsibility. In conceding that she would 'practise' obedience rather than merely 'preach' it, Osborne referenced Taylor as her authority. Yet she also wielded authority herself by using Taylor's text so adeptly and wittily. Using Taylor in the light way that she did, Osborne might even have hinted that if Temple was going to rule, he needed to do so in a benevolent and forgiving manner.
Just before they were about to be married, Osborne suffered a devastating attack of smallpox, a very serious affliction in the period. Inoculation for the illness was not an option until the eighteenth century, and then it was another gifted letter writer, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who blazed the trail. 19 Giffard once again is the source of our knowledge about Dorothy Osborne's illness: The week before they were to be marryed she fell soe desperately ill there was little hopes of her life & nothing the Doctors said but its prooueing the small pox could have sav'd her.
An Audience of One: Dorothy Osborne's Letters to Sir William Temple, 1652-1654 by Carrie Hintz
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