Locating the Letters

Letters and Lives: Locating Bess of Hardwick's Letters in Early Modern Epistolary Culture

This web-edition features 234 letters to and from Bess of Hardwick (c.1521/2-1608); a further 7 letters will be added at the 2014 update, which makes a total of 241 extant letters identified to date. It is a remarkable number to have for an English woman born before 1550, even more so from one born into the lesser gentry. There are only a few other non-royal women for whom we have so many letters from such an early date, such as Bess's friend and contemporary Lady Anne Cooke Bacon (c.1528-1610), for whom we have almost 300 letters (Mair, 2009). However, whereas the majority of Anne's letters are to and from one correspondent over a relatively short period (to and from her son Anthony in the 1590s), Bess's correspondence is, by contrast, thinly spread. In fact, among Tudor women, with the notable exception of Elizabeth I, Bess's correspondence is unrivalled for its extensive scope and range.

First we can observe the wide chronological scope of the correspondence: Bess's letters range over the span of a lifetime. Her letters were written across six decades, from the time of her second marriage to Sir William Cavendish in the 1550s, through her subsequent marriages, to Sir William St Loe and then to George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury, to her widowhood in 1590, when she became dowager countess of Shrewsbury, right up to her death in 1608. We are therefore able to compare Bess's letter-writing practices across the different stages of her long and influential life. We can observe how letter-writing came to be woven into Bess's various projects, both those she initiated herself and those she became involved with by chance or circumstace. What we find, in the letters, is a woman navigating and negotiating her way through the shifting webs of power of the early modern world, in activities that range from keeping a Queen, to disputing the legalities of a petition, to taking to task a dishonest workman.

Second we can observe the social range of the correspondence: Bess's letters chart her extraordinary social rise. Each of her four marriages brought her into a new social realm and each brought new challenges and responsibilities (famously, the custodianship of Mary, Queen of Scots, and, later, the guardianship of her granddaughter Arbella Stuart). The letters reflect her range of social contacts and we have 88 correspondents in the Project database, from across the social scale. Her correspondents range from her servants, mother and brother in Derbyshire, to the most rich and powerful in the land, who included Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, Archbishop Matthew Parker and Lord Burghley.

Third we can observe the thematic variety of the correspondence: Bess's letters are diverse in terms of their types and topics. As James Daybell puts it, Bess's letters are 'emblematic of' and illustrate 'in microcosm' the wide variety of forms that Renaissance women's letters could take and many functions they could perform in this period (Daybell, 2006: 1). Bess's correspondence extends into many areas. Letters enabled Bess to conduct business, participate in politics, petition for entitlements, gather information about trade and legislation, extend her geographical networks, maintain relationships at Court and fashion her own identity. Especially important is that Bess's correspondence illustrates to us the value of letters for Tudor women in business and politics; as Daybell has explained, Bess's correspondence:

counters traditional understanding of women's letters as domestic, parochial, and non-political. A substantial proportion of her correspondence was highly pragmatic, written to conduct business or cultivate patronage relations (Daybell, 2006: 1-5)

We must remember that letters were vital for early modern women: it was through letters that women were able to participate in political life and to conduct activities that would not otherwise be possible, because women were restricted in terms of their movement and access. To read Bess's correspondence is not only to explore her life but to survey the many forms and functions of Renaissance letters and to remember that the practice of letter-writing was not exclusively male or elite.

Afterlives: Locating Bess of Hardwick's Correspondence in Archives and Repositories

The letters included in this web-edition are, today, located in 19 different repositories across the UK and USA (and can be filtered by repository using the custom search). There are a number of reasons why Bess's letters are scattered across so many different locations.

One reason is that almost all the letters we have to and from Bess are 'sent'. That is, they are letters that were actually sent and delivered, rather than being, say, letter-book drafts or administrative copies. The letters Bess sent to others were distributed far and wide at the time of delivery, and their current locations can be partially mapped onto the patterns of Bess's own epistolary networks. For example:

  • Bess was sending letters to Queen Elizabeth and her councillors Lord Burghley, Sir Robert Cecil and Sir Francis Walsingham, especially on matters concerning her granddaughter Arbella Stuart and her charge Mary Queen of Scots; these letters are now mostly at held in the Cecil Papers at Hatfield House and The State Papers at The National Archives (TNA).
  • Bess was writing to neighbours and kin in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and the midlands, typically on matters concerning land purchases, arranged marriages and estate matters; these letters can still be found, today, at Keele University Library, Longleat House and Belvoir Castle, within the family papers of those to whom she was writing, the Pagets, Thynnes and earls of Rutland.
  • The letter Bess sent to Archbishop Matthew Parker in May 1568 still resides within the collection of his own letters in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

In these cases there is an obvious correlation between a letter's original reception circumstances and where it is located today. However, such clear-cut relationships are not by any means always the case. Rather, the current location of a letter can reflect aspects of its afterlife in various ways, some transparent, some oblique, and it is worth giving a couple of examples here.

While the largest number of State Papers are now held at the TNA, individual volumes of State Papers have also found their way into other repositories. For example, one volume, owned by Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), is now part of the Pepys Library, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge and includes the letter from Bess written to the earl of Leicester, 21 January 1568/9 ID 107. Pepys acquired this whole volume of State Papers (along with two others) from his friend, fellow diarist John Evelyn (1620-1706): Pepys writes on the second volume that it is 'The Gift of my Hond and learned Friend John Evelyn Esqre' and mentions in his diary that Evelyn had shown him his collection on 24 November 1665. Evelyn himself had acquired the volumes of State Papers through his wife (mentioned in a letter to Wotton, 12 September 1703), Mary, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Brown, Clark of the Council to Charles I.

In this way we see how an individual letter could pass between family members, spouses and friends, and from state to family ownership and then into an institutional context at a university. So, here, the State Papers, and then Brown and Evelyn's Papers, and then the Pepys Library at Cambridge University, each had a role in the transit of this particular letter from Bess. It is an example that reminds us of the element of chance in transmission, as well as of the role of men of letters in shaping collections of historical materials. Furthermore, it reminds us that individual letters have their own individual history, but that, at the same time, letters often travel in groups and are assimilated, detached and re-assimilated with other letters during their route through time.

To take a second example. Among the largest groups of letters from Bess's correspondence are the 32 held in the Shrewsbury-Talbot Papers, now at Lambeth Palace Library in London. We know that Bess was corresponding with the earls and countesses of Shrewsbury (who included her fourth husband George, sixth earl of Shrewsbury, her son-in-law and step-son Gilbert Talbot and her daughter Mary, wife of Gilbert and later seventh countess of Shrewsbury). Their letters bring a range of news, greetings and well wishes, as well as being the forum where family disputes were played out.

These letters were originally located at Sheffield Manor, the administrative centre of the earls of Shrewsbury's great estates. Then, in the 1670s, the Shrewsbury-Talbot Papers were put into their current order and given a thorough sorting by antiquary Nathaniel Johnston (1628-1705), whose annotations appear all over them. Johnston describes how, at Sheffield Manor, he rescued the letters 'from amids multitudes of waste papers, and the havock that mice, ratts, and wett, had made' (14 May 1677; quoted by Lodge 1791: I, viii). He oversaw the binding of the letters into multiple volumes and divided what he regarded as being 'political' and 'public' letters from the 'domestic' and 'private' (his own artificial separation into separate spheres). Many of the latter were siphoned into one single volume, a selection Johnston labelled in his own hand as: 'only the letters from the Old Countesse of Shrewsbury [and] diverse other great Ladyes & gentlewomen' (Shrewsbury Papers, Vol. O). Johnston's bundling of the women's letters into one volume (the final one) suggests these were the letters of least concern or interest to him. We can only imagine what he discarded, left to rot in some damp corner of Sheffield Manor.

Bess's Papers

Today, Bess's own Papers are mostly held by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, as part of the collection known as the Cavendish-Talbot Papers. Among them are 97 letters that were sent to Bess (and are addressed to her) and 3 letters Bess sent to her servants, to give instructions when she was away from Chatsworth (ID 099, ID 100 and ID 101). (That these latter 3 ended up in Bess's Papers may indicate there was some overlap between her own Papers and those of her household servants; or, alternatively, perhaps these particular letters were requisitioned to Bess on her return to Chatsworth, to be used as checklists of tasks completed.) In addition to these 100 letters, the Cavendish-Talbot Papers contain a number of letters that are not addressed to or from Bess (and therefore not included in this web-edition), but which were either forwarded to her to read, or which became mixed with her own Papers at some stage.

Virtually all of the letters in Bess's Papers, then, are 'sent' letters. We have only one draft of a letter from Bess (ID 175, a scribal draft, now in the Talbot Papers at Lambeth Palace Library), and we do not have any administrative copies of letters from her, such as a letter-book of fair copies she kept as a record of letters sent. This is not to say that Bess never kept such records, but if she did we have no trace of them.

On a related issue to do with storage, we can observe that virtually none of the letters Bess received are endorsed (the only exceptions are ID 095 and ID 164). The lack of endorsements is despite that fact that, when Bess was countess of Shrewsbury we know that the letters of her husband the earl were often endorsed - an indication that the letters received by Bess and her husband were processed separately for administrative purposes. It is also despite the fact that, when Bess was dowager countess of Shrewsbury, after 1591, we know she had adequate secretarial support - an indication that endorsements were deemed unnecessary even by her trained secretaries. We might speculate that the reason endorsements were not added was because there was another form of filing system in use in the household, in the custom-designed Muniments Room at New Hardwick Hall.

Certainly, the Muniments Room at New Hardwick Hall would have been the most likely place where Bess's Papers, including her letters, were held at the time of her death on 13 February 1608. After this point, we know that in the seventeenth century, Bess's Papers came into the possession of the Bosville family, then to John Wilson in the eighteenth century, before being purchased by bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps in the nineteenth century (further details are provided in the Folger Library's Finding Aid for the Papers of the Cavendish-Talbot Family [external site]). There is no doubt that by the time Bess's Papers had reached the Folger Library, over three and a half centuries later, in May 1961, they had been carefully sifted and re-organised.

It is difficult to know the exact sequence of events between 1608 and 1961, but it is hard to avoid the impression that Bess's Paper were thoroughly picked over in the centuries after her death and before their arrival at the Folger. We know that Bess's Papers had been accessible to Sheffield-born antiquary Joseph Hunter (1783-1861), who carefully annotated her letters and printed many of them in his History of Hallamshire (1819; the biographical summaries written on the backs of the Folger letters are likely to be by Hunter). But the letters from Bess's Papers not only passed through Hunter's hands. Individual letters and small groups splintered off and became detached from the main group of Bess's Papers and are now scattered across other collections, which include those at Chatsworth House, Arundel Castle and Sheffield Archives.

In addition, a trail of choice individual letters (all originally sent to Bess) crop up in the possession of a number of collectors and antiquaries. For example, at some point in the eighteenth- or nineteenth-century an autograph letter of thanks from the earl of Leicester to Bess, 16 July [1580?], was compiled as part of an album of memorabilia to do with Mary, Queen of Scots ID 118. The album brings together correspondence, portraits and views relating to the Scots Queen and is now held by the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. The album seems to have been known to, if not owned by, Edinburgh-born politician and economist James Maitland (1759-1839) as he included three of the album's letters in his Narrative of the Principal Acts of the Regency, During the Minority of Mary Queen of Scotland From The Original Ms. Of James Maitland (privately printed, n.d.).

To take another example of a letter which has become detached from the main body of Bess's Papers: the letter on pretty, gilded and hand-decorated paper, locked with white silk ribbon, which was sent from Aletheia Howard to her grandmother Bess became separated from the rest of Bess's Papers at some stage ID 237. It came into the collection of Thomas Phillipps and was sold by Sotheby's in 1974 to an private owner. Its current location is unknown and the transcription in this edition has therefore been taken from the image in the Sotheby's sale catalogue.

As these examples of letters show, then, an individual letters might catch the eye of a collector due to the intrinsic interest of its form or content, whether it be the history of Sheffield, the fortunes of the Scots Queen or some pretty white silk ribbon. To read Bess's letters is continually to encounter figures such as Nathaniel Johnston, Joseph Hunter, James Maitland and Thomas Phillips, either directly in their annotations, or as more shadowy presences who nonetheless had a hand in saving, shaping and selecting what comes down to us today.

Lost letters

There is no doubt that the 241 letters we have so far identified for this web-edition, to and from Bess, represent only a proportion of the original number she actually sent and received. We have already observed that some letters seem to have been preserved because of their special appeal to later collectors (based on the fame of the correspondent or the physical form of the letter itself), whereas others, if they were perceived to be of lesser value, were more susceptible to decay and to the perils of 'mice, rats and wet'.

By way of context, it is instructive to compare the number of extant letters identified to and from Bess (i.e. 241, across 19 repositories) with the number extant to and from her fourth husband George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury. There are around 1000 letters to and from the sixth earl in the Shrewsbury-Talbot Papers alone, compared to just 32 to and from Bess in the same collection, of which 10 were sent or received jointly with her husband. We must question the extent to which these numbers accurately reflect Shrewsbury's greater prolificacy as a letter-writer; as opposed to the extent to which they are skewed towards the selection choices of figures such as Nathaniel Johnston. A full analytical review of the Shrewsbury-Talbot Papers would contribute more information, until then, we can only speculate that it was a bit of both.

While we do not know the exact type and number of lost letters, there is no doubt that what we have of Bess's letters today is not the complete story. It is worth briefly reviewing some of the various types of evidence here, which can help us to gain a more realistic sense of the scope and scale of Bess's letter-writing activities. In some cases, evidence provides fairly precise indications of letters lost; in others, only tantalising hints and clues.

First, Bess's household account books contain numerous references to payments for the delivery of letters where the letter itself no longer survives. These include letters to known correspondents (i.e. for whom we do have other letters to or from Bess), such as her sons Charles and Henry Cavendish and her son-in-law Gilbert Talbot, seventh earl of Shrewsbury. But they also include references to letters to or from individuals for whom we have no surviving letters at all and these individuals should therefore be added to the list of Bess's known correspondents. Some of these letters are likely to have been of especial interest for modern readers, as they include those that deal with everyday life and ordinary people. For example, there is the letter from Bess's midwife delivered by her (the midwife's) husband after the birth of Bess's daughter Temperance (who died in early childhood), June 1549: the payment is for 2 shillings to 'my norcys hosbande when he brought lateres frome my myd wyffe' (Chatsworth House, Hardwick MS 1). Or there are the payments for delivery of letters from workers, which may have added to our knowledge of Bess's building and gardening activities, such as the payments made to 'one that brought ^a^ letter from Weadson that tends the grounds at uden' (12p, May 1593) and to 'a boy that brought a lettre from agars the mason' (12p, August 1594; both Chatsworth House, Hardwick MS 7).

Second, there are certain individuals we know, from other sources, were connected to Bess, yet for whom we do not have any letters. While we cannot be sure these individuals ever exchanged letters with Bess, we should nevertheless keep open the possibility that they did, especially if we know they sent items or messages to Bess. For example, the account book entries for the period Bess was in London December 1591 - July 1592 reveal payments made to messengers, and for various deliveries sent, from a number of named individuals who include:

  • courtier and gentlewoman of the Queen's privy chamber Anne (Russell) Dudley, countess of Warwick (1548/9–1604): payments were made to 'my Ladie Warwick's man', 5 shillings in December 1591, 2 shillings in January 1591/2 and 2 shillings in April 1592
  • bishop of London John Aylmer (1520/21–1594): payment was made to 'one of my Lorde Bisshoppe of London his man ^that brought a globe^', 20 shillings in January 1591/2
  • Mary (Browne) Wriothesley, second countess of Southampton (b. in or before 1552, d. 1607): payment was made to 'my Ladie of Southehamptons man', 3 shillings 4p in January 1591/2
  • noblewoman Douglas (Howard) Sheffield, Lady Sheffield (1542/3-1608): payment was made to 'my Ladie sheyffields foottman', 2 shillings in March 1591/2
  • nobleman Thomas Butler, tenth earl of Ormond and third earl of Ossory (1531–1614): payment was made to 'my Lorde of Ormonnd footeman', 12p in March 1591/2; Ormond was appointed earl marshal of England in late 1590 or early 1591, but surrendered the post and left England to return to Ireland before September 1592
  • gentlewoman and scholar, Lady Anne (Cooke) Bacon (c.1528–1610): payment, given as a loan, was made for £50 'Lente unto my Ladie Bacon', March 1591/2

That is to say, we have no extant letters between these individuals and Bess, but these payments remind us that the surviving letters do not reflect the full extent of Bess's social network. From Bess's later account books we find further payments, such as those to 'my la: boes man' and, on one occasion, 10 shillings given 'to my Lady Bowes man for brenging a presente'. (1598-1600; Chatsworth House, Hardwick MS 8). Lady Isabel Bowes (d. 1622; married by 1599 to Sir William Bowes [d. 1611], previously married to Godfrey Foljambe [1588-95, a Derbyshire JP and MP]) seems to have had much in common with Bess as she owned extensive property in Derbyshire and Yorkshire and was a prominent protestant. So, while no letters survive between them, we might well suspect the two women had reason to correspond.

Third, the content of a particular letter often infers a previous letter. For example, we often have only one side of a correspondence, such as the very brief note sent from Bess to John Manners, 16 December 1605, simply to say she has received his letter, is glad he is in good health and is in good health herself ID 242. Although we do not have Manner's letter to Bess, we can surmise from her reply that it was a brief neighbourly enquiry after the heath of the ageing dowager countess.

In other cases, a letter will imply the previous existence of several more letters, or of a much wider correspondence, which is now lost. For example, the short note sent from Shrewsbury to his wife Bess, written by a scribe, 10 October 1580, mentions at least 5 or 6 letters, none of which has yet been identified today: Shrewsbury tells Bess that he has received her 'severall lettres' but his hand is in so much pain that he will defer his reply to her and encloses Leicester's letter for Bess to reply to on his behalf ID 079; i.e. the 5 or 6 (at least) letters mentioned are Bess's 'severall lettres' to Shrewsbury, his own deferred reply, the enclosed letter from Leicester and Bess's reply to Leicester on Shrewsbury's behalf. Letters, as social discourse, are shaped around other letters, and can therefore indicate absences.

Fourth, internal references in letters remind us of the number of sensitive or high-security letters that were intentionally destroyed. Of course, these are likely to have been of interest to us today, as they contained information never meant to be seen because it was top secret or dealt with sensitive emotional or political issues. For example, there is the letter brought secretly to Arbella Stuart by her servant which 'she was seene to burne presently vppon the receit' during the height of the plots she concocted to try to escape from Bess's guardianship at Hardwick Hall ID 135.

Fifth and finally, in some cases a later copy is all we have, either of a whole letter or of an extract. For example, the eighteenth- or nineteenth-century copy by John Pinkerton (1758-1826) of the letter from Mary, Queen of Scots to Bess in c.1569, provides us with the only record we have of this letter ID 220, as no version from Bess's lifetime survives. In this sense we owe a debt to previous collectors and their efforts to save letters that may otherwise have been lost, although we must be constantly alert to their role in shaping and selecting.

Going Live: Bess of Hardwick's Letters Online

There are a number of advantages to editing Bess's letters online rather than in print form. Beyond the basic ability to access transcripts, the web offers a flexible, customisable, extensible, multimedia environment. Furthermore, to capture the correspondence in electronic form is to allow for its replication in different contexts, so as to be better predisposed for sustained future use.

Flexible and customisable

The flexibility of the electronic form has a number of advantages for a collection of historical letters. It means that letters are not fixed in a single sequence, but can be browsed or sorted in a variety of ways, with particular correspondents or Bess herself brought to the forefront as required. The functionality of this site enables searching and filtering according to different criteria. These opportunities to customised and mobilise viewing of the letters are ideal for exploring Bess's correspondence, which is wide-ranging and fragmented.

The flexibility of the electronic form means that viewing of an individual letter itself is not fixed: transcripts can be viewed in diplomatic or normalised form, and the different layers of each letter (such as later additions) can be either hidden or revealed. That is to say, a web-edition can resolve potential conflicts between, on the one hand, a desire to remain faithful to the integrity to the correspondence in all its diversity and materiality, and, on the other, a desire to allow to clear pathways through the letters, which includes a desire to ensure Bess herself is not 'drowned out' amid all the other correspondents and annotators.


With respect to material features, the decision to edit online has been an important one. It is an environment which has the potential to allow users fuller access to the bibliographic codes, while, at the same time, making it possible customise and mobilise the viewing and browsing of the letters. Practical issues mean that the colour images of 185 letters (included here) would have been prohibited by size and cost in a print edition, yet they are crucial. In addition to the use of images, one of the concerns of the current Project has been to develop methods for the incorporation of these features into our editorial practice. That is, to find strategies to encode or represent visual and material features, and to delineate the parameters of written, oral and material communication.

It is important to emphasise that images are not just included for decorative purposes or for specialised use. Rather, they illustrate different dimensions of the communication of meaning, which is encoded into the handwriting, space, folds, ribbon, seals, as well as the words themselves. Historians of the book and of reading have shown us how the physical form of the codex can impact upon literary interpretation. In a comparable way, the physical form of a letter can extend or inflect its meaning. There are various visual and material aspects of early modern letters that were designed to communicate meaning or encourage a certain kind of reader-response. These have been documented by Alan Stewart in his scholarly 'grammar of early modern letter-writing', which elucidates the 'complex letter-writing etiquette' firmly in place by this time and the interplay of spatial, material and visual forms (2008: 5, 40-41, 50). For example, a range of such features can be found in the letters to Bess and, in many cases, were the means by which different writers found ways to register politeness or their subordinate relationship to her, variously, by ribbon, space on the page, calligraphic penmanship or decorated paper.

The meanings communicated by Bess's letters, then, do not exist separately from their spatial and material forms. They require that we attend carefully to issues of production and reception, if we are to acknowledge the terms and conditions upon which Bess participated within Renaissance manuscript culture. Bess's letters are not unusual in this respect and, in fact, illustrate many features characteristic of contemporary letter-writing practice.

Bess's letters were typically collaboratively produced and consumed, created and read in consort with her husband, family members, employees and scribes. They were delivered by personally known bearers and their messages are very often part written and part oral. Extensive use was made of enclosures, which often carried meaning alongside the letter. These feature are to be added to the range of visual and material forms used in order to inflect or enforce the written words of the letter, and they are all included in the encoding policies of this editing. The management of all of these features constitute aspects of Bess's literacy, which were integral to the way she operated within epistolary culture and got her message across.


As the web continues to open up collections of manuscripts (through online catalogues and digital images) we will be pressed to think further about how letter collections relate to one another and how, say, an edition such as this one, of Bess's letters, could be integrated into larger networks of early modern letters online. The boundaries of the current edition are set out in the sections Editing Bess of Hardwick's Letters > Ontology, Editing Bess of Hardwick's Letters > Transcription Policy and Editing Bess of Hardwick's Letters > Material Features (i.e. the editorial rationale and selection policies); as these discussions show, the process of setting the boundaries of this edition is itself suggestive of the potentialities for linking and for building meta-editions. For example, the discussion of 'letters excluded' from this edition indicates the potential for expanding the current edition to incorporate letters which are not explicitly to or from Bess but which came within the remit of her reading experience, or which are about her. The use of xml keeps open these future potentials for extending and linking, or for re-appropriating the xml into future editions that apply their own definitions and criteria to the correspondence under consideration.

Accessible and sustainable

An xml-based edition should strive to be accessible and sustainable. This web-edition is freely available, no subscription or registration is required, no special software downloads are needed and, of course, it is not limited to a set print run. The files which constitute this edition can be stored in more than one form, so as to ensure long-term sustainability and, at the same time, to allow project materials to be re-purposed in other contexts and for multiple stakeholder groups. To be specific, this web edition www.bessofhardwick.org is hosted by the HRI, University of Sheffield, in addition to which, versions of the core project files (the transcripts and catalogue) will be distributed at multiple locations:

  • The xml and metadata will be held at the University of Glasgow on an Arts-wide corpus server where it will be accessible, for searching and sorting, for teaching and research purposes and in the context of other language-based projects at Glasgow. Hosting will be managed through the STELLA Lab, which ensures materials are stored securely on their own server, at the same time as being utilised in this context.
  • The xml and metadata will be added to the Corpus of Early English Correspondence at the University of Helsinki, which means the material will be hosted on another server again, and accessible for use by another group of researchers and scholars, those primarily concerned with corpus linguistic approaches to analysis of early modern letters.
  • Users of www.bessofhardwick.org are able to download the xml for themselves direct from the site. The aim is to keep open the possibility for use and re-use of the project files for personal research and interest. We ask users to credit the site in full.

In addition, it is worth emphasising that many of the images included in this web-edition are incorporate from pre-existing online resources, such as The Folger Digital Image Collection via Luna, the State Papers Online and the Cecil Papers Online (links and references below). In these ways, then, this web-edition is conceived of as having a mobile existence, one that reflects both the networks developed within the current Project and the dispersed nature of the manuscript materials themselves. We have been following the trail of these letters, and that trail is to some extent embedded within the resulting distribution of the site's materials. The web provides a flexible and dynamic environment, one that mirrors the uneven and unstable nature of the manuscript culture it reproduces.

Catalogues, finding aids and resources used in the creation of the catalogue of letters and individual summaries of letters:

Further sources used in the creation of the catalogue of letters and individual biographies of correspondents

  • C. R. Cheney, A Handbook of Dates for Students of British History (1945), rev. Michael Jones (Cambridge, 2000).
  • David N. Durant, Bess of Hardwick: Portrait of an Elizabethan Dynast (London and Chester Springs: Peter Owen, 1977).
  • David N. Durant Papers, University of Nottingham, Manuscripts and Special Collections, MS 663.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography www.odnb.com [external site, subscription required].
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online www.oed.com [external site, subscription required].

References and Further Reading

  • Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, University College London [external site].
  • Corpus of Early English Correspondence, University of Helsinki [external site].
  • Cultures of Knowledge: An Intellectual Geography of the Seventeenth-Century Republic of Letters, University of Oxford [external site].
  • James Daybell, Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
  • Joanne Garde-Hansen, Andrew Hoskins and Anna Reading (eds), Save As... Digital Memories (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
  • Michael Hunter, 'How to Edit a Seventeenth-Century Manuscript', The Seventeenth Century, 10, 2 (1995): 277-310; Editing Early Modern Texts: An Introduction to Principles and Practice (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007).
  • Katherine Mair, 'Anne, Lady Bacon: A Life in Letters' (unpublished PhD thesis, Queen Mary, University of London, 2009).
  • Alan Stewart, Shakespeare's Letters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • A review of the account book records for delivery of letters is included in: Alison Wiggins, Bess of Hardwick: Reading and Writing Renaissance Letters, Material Readings in Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, forthcoming 2014).
Author(s): Alison Wiggins, April 2013

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'Bess of Hardwick's Letters' was developed by The University of Glasgow with technical development provided by The Digital Humanities Institute at The University of Sheffield
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