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The Pen and the People: English Letter Writers 1660-1800 Hardcover – 8 Oct 2009

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Impressive...breaks significant new ground. (History Today)

The originality of The Pen and the People lies in the cavalcade of writers used by Whyman to reclaim a vanished social world. (Amanda Vickery, London Review of Books)

The book is triumphantly successful. Our understanding of the culture and mentality of late Stuart and Georgian England is both broader and deeper after her work...a highly satisfying book. (Anthony Fletcher, History)

Engaging...[and] provocative... The striking case studies of The Pen and the People, as well as the substantial archival body out of which they emerge, will certainly require a revision of the history of eighteenth-century literacy. In addition, for scholars of the period's popular and literary print cultures, new and important questions have been raised about the role of the pen and the many humble people who wielded it in disseminating and shaping those cultures. (Betty A. Schellenberg, Huntington Library Quarterly)

Whyman's work is important for challenging established views on popular literacy in the period. She is to be commended for the conscientious, exhaustive nature of her research... Whyman has uncovered valuable family archives...which 'give voice' to the historically obscure and with a thrilling immediacy as, through these documents penned with no thought of publication, we are allowed the illicit pleasure of eavesdropping on words not meant for our ears, of glimpsing the lives of individuals who lived over two hundred years ago. (Wendy Jones Nakanishi, English Studies)

This is a fascinating book. Susan Whyman is to be applauded for following one excellent social history with another. (Rosemary O'Day, Journal of British Studies)

Important...exceedingly well researched...valuable (Gary Schneider, Reviews in History)

A richly researched book...Whyman has woven a history of the importance of letter writing at this time, and a portrait of a people being formed through a democratizing popular culture of letter writing. (Mary O'Connor, Review of English Studies)

As with Whyman's earlier book of the Verney family ... the strength of this one lies in the detailed and imaginative exposition of documentary sources, the close reading of texts, and the sympathetic engagement with people who are brought to life either as individuals or composites (R. A. Houston, English Historical Review)

As well as students of literary culture, historians will find this book valuable as a guide to epistolary sources. (Northern History)

About the Author

Susan E. Whyman returned to the academic world after a career that encompassed the publishing, editing, and library professions. Her academic degrees include a BA in History from Mt. Holyoke College, magna cum laude and a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from Rutgers, the State University. She received both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in British History from Princeton University. At Princeton, she taught and did her graduate work with Professor Lawrence Stone. She has been a visiting scholar at Wadham College, Oxford and received a Huntington Library fellowship in San Marino, California. Whyman has been an annual visitor to England since the early 1970s. Presently, she spends time in Princeton and Oxford, England as an independent historian.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Life B4 Twitter 23 Mar. 2010
By M. Reed - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book helped me understand the circumstances in the early 18th century England that contributed to the ease with which people (especially poor folks with no formal education) communicated with family, friends, and lovers by letters over long distances. Every age fosters a particular mode of communication -- twitter now, bards long ago -- and the 18th century fostered an age of letter writing. Great book, well written and researched, with an abundance of original source material.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful read 14 Oct. 2013
By Kim MacQueen - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent book about a lost art form: the simple act of letter writing. It will make you want to take pen and paper and send some thing meaningful to a loved one.
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