The Hostess as a Correspondent
Over their lifespans both Mary Gladstone and Annie Fields maintained an extensive correspondence with hundreds of their contemporaries. In the course of this correspondence they probably practiced every conceivable form of letter-writing, from love letters to letters of appointment, from offers of employment to domestic workers to pleas for funding to government agencies, from invitations to letters of dismissal, from private letters to friends to public explications of their views. With this, they addressed a wide body of their contemporaries, from supplicants for public assistance through officials at the very top of their countries’ political and social echelons. Moreover they received letters as well as wrote them, and the letters they received tell us as much about their standing among their contemporaries as do their own writings. Placed as they were, both socially and geographically, and trained as they were to organize conversations about matters of great general interest, it is not surprising that they became centers of significant epistolary conversations.
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