The letters of Dorothy Percy Sidney, Countess of Leicester, dating predominantly from about 1636 until 1643, cover a wide range of issues and vividly illustrate her centrality to her illustrious family's personal and public affairs. These c.100 letters are here for the first time fully transcribed and edited. The edition includes a biographical and historical introduction, setting the context of the Sidneys' family and political activities at the time of Dorothy's marriage to Robert in 1615 and then tracing the major events and involvements of her life until her death in 1659. A key to the cipher used in the letters to disguise identities of individuals is also supplied. Following the introduction is the complete text of each of Dorothy Percy Sidney's letters to her husband, Robert, second Earl of Leicester, and to and from William Hawkins, the Sidney family solicitor, along with several others, including letters from Dorothy to Archbishop Laud and the Earl of Holland. Her husband's account of her last moments in 1659, and testamentary directions relating to her will, are also included. The letters are arranged in chronological order and supported by a series of footnotes that elucidate their historical context and briefly to identify key individuals, places, political issues and personal concerns. These notes are further supported by selective quotations from Dorothy's incoming correspondence and other related letters and documents. A glossary supplies more detailed information on 'Persons and Places.' Dorothy Percy Sidney's letters eloquently convey how, even with her undoubted personal potency and shrewd intelligence, the multifaceted roles expected of an able and determined aristocratic early modern Englishwoman-especially when her husband was occupied abroad on official business-were intensely demanding and testing.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Dorothy Percy Sidney's Life and Writings: Childhood and family heritage; Courtship; Early married life and family association (1616-19); Family life and court politics (1619-26); Royal service (1626-43); Dorothy Percy Sidney's writings; The Sidneys in the Civil Wars and the Commonwealth (1643-59). A Note on the Text: General description of the letters; Principles of modernization; Ciphers. The Correspondenceof Dorothy Percy Sidney, Countess of Leicester; Last Will and Testament documents; Persons and places; Appendices; Index.
Prize: Winner of the Josephine Roberts Edition Prize, awarded by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women in 2011 'Filling in the gaps between the 140 items is a forty-eight page Introduction that focuses on the domestic relationships of this large, well-connected family, a table and family tree indicating all the family members of importance, an eleven-page chronology, and an Appendix listing the eighty books the Countess possessed at her death ... this welcome edition shows how much can be learned from the daily letters of one not very famous woman, married into a distinguished lineage, about court entanglements, marriage negotiations, backstage influences on the public life of aristocrats dedicated (until their disillusionment) to the king’s service, and the domestic and financial affairs of a magnate family whose documentary record will doubtless yield further riches, if it continues to be imaginatively interrogated.' The Library 'Both its exacting introduction and its thorough collection and consideration of the letters of Dorothy Percy Sidney make Brennan, Kinnamon, and Hannay’s edition an asset to Sidney scholars around the world. Its modernized spellings promise to reveal the importance of Dorothy’s writing to all levels of researchers.' Notes and Queries