Literary Letters in the Archive

Picture 1Out of all the manuscripts contained within a literary archive, authors’ letters perhaps promise the most naked insight into the mind of the artist. Quite often, these letters are intimate, confessional, the authors’ naked voices so different to published material or interviews where, knowing their words will be seen by a larger audience, they are on their best behaviour. This appearance of intimacy can be intoxicating for the researcher. It can often feel like eavesdropping on a private conversation, discovering an author’s unabridged opinions on everything from writing, to book, to political insights, as well as the tantalising pieces of gossipy trivia that reveal the author’s life, loves and more. But literary letters are much more complex documents than this sense of guard-down intimacy indicates. It is well known that the Romantic Poets would correspond with each other frequently, and many of these letter have become famous in their own right:

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