1835 Chatty Manuscript Letter by Harriet Lee, British Playwright and Author of the Canterbury Tales

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On offer is a fascinating autographed letter, written and signed by English playwright and author, who notably penned The Canterbury Tales, Harriet Lee (1757-1851).

Dated Saturday 4th April [1835], Lee has written to Mrs. Reynolds. An excerpt of the letter follows, which gives a sense of the content: 

"We were very sorry, My dear Mrs. Reynolds, that you are doing penance - but Heaven in one season will reward you for it. I don't doubt -three is a mystical number you know, and of good own I hope - a little girl is perhaps in some respects not very desirable, but always ornamental in a family. I am sorry to be obliged to take leave of you upon papr but out T.T.L. has been all in that way. On Monday we leave London to which I do not think we shall return next winter- God knows how the succeeding one may be disposed of. That will partly depend upon the Society we find in the Country. ...You are very likely to visit Wales and should you make Chepstow on your way we beg you to recollect that a line addressed to St. Arvans will always ensure yourself and Mr. Reynolds a will and Bed...."

BIO NOTES: Harriet Lee was an English novelist and playwright. In 1786, she published The Errors of Innocence, a novel in five volumes, written in epistolary form. A comedy, The New Peerage, or our Eyes may deceive us, was performed at Drury Lane on 10 Nov. 1787, and, although acted nine times, was not successful enough to encourage her to continue writing for the stage. Clara Lennox, a novel in two volumes, was published in 1797 and translated into French in the following year. The first two volumes of Miss Lee's chief work, The Canterbury Tales, in which she was assisted by her sister Sophia, appeared in 1797-8, and a second edition appeared in 1799. The remaining three volumes came out in 1805. In 1798, she published a play in three acts, The Mysterious Marriage, or the Heirship of Rosalva. It was never acted. Before 1798, William Godwin made Miss Lee's acquaintance during a ten days' sojourn at Bath, and was so greatly struck with her conversation — he made elaborate analyses of it — that he determined to offer her marriage. But Godwin's egotism displeased Harriet, and she frankly rebuked his vanity. Godwin again visited Bath at the end of 1798 and paid her formal addresses, but Miss Lee, who seems to have had a regard for her eccentric lover, finally decided that his religious opinions made a happy union impossible. Her last letter, 7 August 1798, expressed a hope that friendly intercourse might be maintained; and Godwin sent letters to her at a later date criticising some of her literary productions. Among other of her friends were Jane and Anna Maria Porter, the novelists, who lived at Bristol, and Thomas Lawrence. It is said that Sophia and Harriet Lee were the first to predict the future eminence of Sir Thomas Lawrence. Samuel Rogers mentions meeting Harriet Lee in 1792.

The letter measures 7-1/4 x 9 inches flat folded to 7-1/4 x 4-1/2 inches. Autograph letter signed. Three pages, (with integral address leaf)  Spotting and one small 1/2 x 3/4 inch piece of paper missing affecting one word, otherwise good condition.

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