Gentry Life in Georgian Ireland
The Letters of Edmund Spencer (1711-1790)

Edited by Duncan Fraser and Andrew Hadfield

Legenda (General Series)

Legenda

3 April 2017  •  300pp

ISBN: 978-1-910887-14-1 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-781883-57-0 (paperback, 30 September 2018)  •  RRP £9.99, $12.50, €12.50

ISBN: 978-1-781883-58-7 (JSTOR ebook)

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Parental profligacy and the dishonesty of his guardian meant that when Edmund Spencer came of age in 1732 he inherited only a fragment of the estates that his great-great-grandfather, the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser, had amassed in Ireland. To keep himself and his family in a manner appropriate to their status Spencer had to find an income. His plan to publish the collected works of his ancestor foundered on the unrest caused by the 1745 Jacobite rebellion; posts in the army and the revenue proved just as elusive.

In this collection of 120 letters, written to relatives in Wales, we follow his sometimes desperate hunt for preferment in Dublin and elsewhere, making full use of an extended network of patronage which includes, rather surprisingly, a number of Jacobite sympathisers. Along the way he paints a vivid picture of everyday life in eighteenth century rural Ireland, deploring bad harvests, making fun of extravagant spending at elections, dispensing alarming medical advice as well as passing on news about deaths and marriages, and gossip about elopements.

This annotated edition of Spencer’s letters will be of interest to both scholars and general readers eager to learn more about life in Georgian Ireland.

Duncan Fraser is a visiting research fellow and Andrew Hadfield Professor of English, both at the University of Sussex.

Reviews:

  • ‘An extraordinary cache of letters... in this meticulously produced edition, which is an epistolary treat throughout.’ — Hazel Wilkinson, Times Literary Supplement 3 August 2018
  • ‘As an edition of correspondence, this work by Duncan Fraser and Andrew Hadfield is a model of how an edition should be put together. In addition to discussing the use of Old and New Style calendars and describing the archive, they supply a chronological chart of the archive listing dates, folio numbers, addressees, and places of origin. The commentary on transcription skilfully analyses the trade-off between reading the original manuscript and a transcription which ‘pares away the obfuscating aspects of unfamiliar handwriting, outdated orthographical conventions, and the deleterious effects of time on paper’. The discussion of the idiosyncrasies of Spencer’s punctuation is instructive about eighteenth-century attitudes generally and especially noteworthy in its suggestion that dashes may be used as paragraph markers to save the cost of paper. Meanwhile, in their new printed form the letters are presented in a handsomely produced volume by Legenda, an imprint of the Modern Humanities Research Association. In t’ — Jean R. Brink, Modern Language Review 114.4, October 2019, 854-55 (full text online)
  • ‘Spencer should have inherited family estates in Ireland that would make him comfortable for life. In fact, as a result of incompetence and skullduggery, he came into an inheritance that was so embarrassed, that for the rest of his life he had to struggle hard to hold onto social credibility. These letters, meticulously and brilliantly edited, tell part of the story of how Spencer tried to cope.’ — L G Mitchell, Notes & Queries 66.4, December 2019, 602-03 (full text online)

Contents:

i-vi
Gentry Life in Georgian Ireland: Gentry Life in Georgian Ireland
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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vii-viii
Table of Contents
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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ix-x
Acknowledgements
D.F., A.H.
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xi-xi
List of Abbreviations
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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xii-xii
Dating and References
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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xiii-xiv
Historical Maps
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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1-46
Introduction: Edmund Spencer and His Times
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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47-218
the Letters
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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219-230
Appendix I: Additional Letters From the Puleston Collection
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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231-258
Appendix Ii: Index of People Mentioned in the Correspondence
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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259-273
Appendix Iii: Index of Places Mentioned in the Correspondence
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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274-274
Appendix Iv: Places Given As Addresses of Origin
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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275-280
Bibliography
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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281-286
Index
Duncan Fraser, Andrew Hadfield
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Bibliography entry:

Fraser, Duncan, and Andrew Hadfield (eds), Gentry Life in Georgian Ireland: The Letters of Edmund Spencer (1711-1790) (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017)

First footnote reference: 35 Gentry Life in Georgian Ireland: The Letters of Edmund Spencer (1711-1790), ed. by Duncan Fraser and Andrew Hadfield (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Fraser and Hadfield, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Fraser, Duncan, and Andrew Hadfield (eds). 2017. Gentry Life in Georgian Ireland: The Letters of Edmund Spencer (1711-1790) (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Fraser and Hadfield 2017: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Fraser and Hadfield 2017: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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