By Anna Mercer
Thank you to Val Derbyshire (University of Sheffield) for this intriguing and charming account of her experience carrying out research at the Derbyshire Record Office – and the letters she spent time reading there. You can also read Val’s BARS blog report from the Thelwall Conference here.
‘Unrestrained Epistolary Intercourse’: A Marriage of the Romantic and the Scientific
Val Derbyshire, PhD Researcher, School of English, University of Sheffield
Mary Ann Flaxman, Detail of portrait of Eleanor Anne Porden, undated.
I first stumbled across the works of Eleanor Anne Porden (1795-1825), Romantic poet and first wife of Arctic explorer, John Franklin (1786-1847) quite by chance whilst working a night shift on an out of hours helpline at Derbyshire County Council. I quite often used these night shifts – which were invariably quiet – to study for the MA I was completing at the time. During one shift, I was researching an assignment on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), and reading Jen Hill’s excellent study from 2008, White Horizon: The Arctic in the Nineteenth-Century British Imagination (New York: University of New York Press, 2008), when I came across Hill’s analysis of Porden’s The Arctic Expeditions: A Poem (1818). Hill’s research had …read more