When skimming through Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard 1994, I came upon the name of Madame de Sévigné whose letters were quoted and used as models by English women of noble birth (page 88). The male writers used Latin in their correspondence, showing off their classical education while the female writers used French to show that they too had a form of education. It is a pity that my French is not up to standard to be able to read Madame de Sévigné’s letters because they seem(ed) highly captivating, especially the ones she wrote to her daughter, Madame de Grignan. In those letters, she gave her opinion about everyday life and commented on the act and art of letter writing.

Aristocrats is a very interesting read about the Lennox sisters, the four children of the Duke of Richmond: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah, who wrote to each other nearly every day in the 18th century. This book needs more attention than just skimming and it will be my next holiday read. In the meantime, I watch the 1999 Television series in short episodes on YouTube whenever I have a break.

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1 Response to Aristocrats

  1. There are, a far as I know, two collections of letters from the Lennox family that have been published, though quite a while ago already:

    Charles Lennox (1735-1806) :
    Olson, Alison Gilbert (ed.). 1961. The Radical Duke. Career and Correspondence of Charles Lennox, Third Duke of Richmond. London etc.: Oxford University Press.


    * Over 1000 of Richmond’s letters survive
    * Only his out-letters included; ‘he threw most of his personal papers away’ (p. 110)
    * An index of his political friendships
    * His own spelling and punctuation, occasional corrections for clarity (unfortunately!)
    * Family notes excluded

    Emily Lennox (1731-1814):
    Fitzgerald, Brian (ed.). 1949-1957. The Correspondence of Emily, Duchess of Leinster, 1731-1814. 3 Vols. Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission.

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