Putting together this exhibition, I have been amazed by the how closely the women writers of the nineteenth century were connected to one another. I discovered one of these connections investigating this fragment of a letter owned by the Armstrong Browning Library.
Maria Jane Jewsbury to Anna Brownell Jameson
Although only the last page of the letter survives in our collection, the entire letter is printed in Anna Jameson: Letters and Friendships, edited by Mrs. Stewart Erskine, published in 1915. Maria Jane Jewsbury responds to Anna Jameson’s question about her opinion of Mary Shelley:
As you expressed a desire to know my opinion of Mrs. Shelley, I will take the present opportunity of saying, that I rarely, if ever, met with a woman to whom I felt so disposed to apply the epithet “bewitching.” I can of course merely speak of appearances, but she struck me in the light of a matured child; a union of buoyancy and depth . . . .Her hilarity, contrasted with the almost sadly profound nature of some of her remarks, somewhat puzzled me . . . . I doubt her being a happy woman, and I also doubt her being one that could be distinctly termed melancholy. . . . She reminded me of no person I ever saw but she has made me wish the arrival of the time when I am to see her again.