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Professor discovers Mary Shelley letters in Chelmsford
2:00pm Monday 6th January 2014 in News
THIRTEEN unpublished letters from Frankenstein author Mary Shelley have been discovered in Chelmsford by a university professor.
Nora Crook, Professor of English Literature at Anglia Ruskin, found the documents at the Essex Records Office in Wharf Road, Chelmsford.
The scholar had been looking for information about an obscure writer known as Miss Crumpe.
Her search led her to the letters written by Shelley to Horace Smith, a stockbroker and friend of her late husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his daughter Eliza between 1831 and 1849.
Prof Crook said: “It is through one of Smith’s daughters that the letters came to the Essex Record Office.
“No one would have thought to look there for letters from Mary Shelley to Smith, as Smith had no immediate connection with Essex.
“However, his youngest daughter married into the Round family from Birch near Colchester and was the mother of J Horace Round, a famous Victorian historian who translated the portion of the Domesday Book covering Essex.”
The letters contain cases of literacy censorship brought up by Shelley to Mr Smith, including cutting an Edward Trelawny manuscript because she felt some episodes were “too shocking”.
Prof Crook said finding the letters was fantastic and believes the staff at the records office have done a brilliant job.
“If it hadn’t been for the Essex Record Office’s excellent archivists, I certainly would never have stumbled across the letters,” she said.
“You can work out how the letters came to the Essex Record Office with a bit of sleuthing, but to get to them in the first place you need a lucky break.”
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