An Audience of One: Dorothy Osborne's Letters to Sir William by Carrie Hintz

By Carrie Hintz

When first released in 1888, the letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple - written among 1652 and 1654 - created one of those cult phenomenon within the Victorian interval. Osborne and Temple, either of their early twenties, shared a romance that used to be adversarial through their households, and Osborne herself used to be virtually consistently less than surveillance. Osborne's letters supply an extraordinary glimpse into an early sleek woman's existence at a pivotal aspect, as she attempted to discover how to marry for romance in addition to fulfil her duties to her family.

Combining historic and biographical study 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 ignored as a author, creating a complete and thorough research lengthy past due. whereas the nineteenth-century reception of the letters is testomony to the long-lasting 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

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11 Temple sent Osborne letter seals that pleased her, and she requested (among other things) that he send her orangeflower water: 'You see I make no scruple of giveing you little idle comissions, tis a freedom you allow mee, and that I should bee glad you would take' (82). This kind of exchange symbolized the mutually beneficial nature of the courtship, as did the letters themselves. Osborne compared one of Temple's letters to a precious treasure: 'I know not whither an intire diamond of the bignesse on't would have pleased mee half soe well' (81).

Her idealism is part of the rigour that led her to comment so powerfully on the unions around her, and to expect Temple to respond to her remarks. 40 An Audience of One Osborne's letters reveal the limitations of women's power in the period, and illuminate some of her own strategies to escape these limitations. ' Osborne's letters opened up a new vein of communication between the couple, where there was room for negotiation, care, and responsiveness. Osborne was able to express her anger, fears, and hopes.

At one point in her letters, she rejected the role of the all-powerful Petrarchan mistress: You shall not perswade mee to bee your Mistresse if you would, I am too much your friend to act that part well. 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.

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