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A database of Edward FitzGerald’s letters

May 11, 2012

We are in process of creating a database of the published letters of Edward FitzGerald.  The starting point has been the four volume edition of the letters compiled and edited by the Terhunes and published in 1980*.  All students of FitzGerald must be for ever grateful to the Terhunes for this work – how they persevered with the transcription of FitzGerald’s illegible hand baffles us lesser mortals.  The database has covers more than 2000 letters and is near completion;  we may add other unpublished letters if and when we find them.  As well as the basic information on who the letter was to, the date and where written, the analysis includes the main topics covered in the letter such as friends and family news, FitzGerald’s own writing, other literary interests, concerns about politics and religion, news items and much more.

As we begin to analyse this material, we should be interested to have suggestions on special areas of interest for other researchers into FitzGerald and his period.  What are your preoccupations on which this information could shed useful light?  As far as we know, this is the first time a systematic analysis of all the FitzGerald letters has been attempted, using all the search potential of modern digital databases.  If you know of other work in this area, we like to hear of it.

*  Alfred McKinley Terhune and Annabelle Burdick Terhune eds., The Letters of Edward FitzGerald: 4 vols (Princeton: Princeton U P, 1980)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012 5:55 pm

    Bravo! What an undertaking. This will be wonderful resource for all levels of interest in EFG. I look forward to being able to access it. Especially since I own only the first volume of his correspondence.

    p.s. I’m still curious to know where FitzGerald got the quote from Goethe regarding his own as, “the barber’s talent”.

    • May 14, 2012 4:21 pm

      We don’t know the source of the ‘Barber’s talent’ quote that EFG attributes to Goethe (Letter to W B Donne, early January 1951). But we’ll investigate further. Does anyone else know?

  2. May 11, 2012 8:29 pm

    What a wonderful and brave project! I can’t wait!

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