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George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life   By: (1719-1791)

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In "George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life" by George Augustus Selwyn, readers are given a unique glimpse into the life and times of this prominent figure in 18th-century England. This collection of letters, spanning his entire life, presents a detailed account of Selwyn's experiences, relationships, and his keen observations of the society he inhabited.

The letters, written in an eloquent and captivating style, showcase Selwyn's wit, intelligence, and his deep understanding of the world around him. Through his correspondence with fellow politicians, artists, and friends, we gain insight into not only Selwyn's personal life but also the political and societal climate of the era. The author does a commendable job in curating and arranging these letters, delivering a cohesive narrative that feels both informative and entertaining.

One of the most striking aspects of this book is the meticulously researched footnotes accompanying each letter. These footnotes provide indispensable historical context, helping readers fully appreciate the significance of Selwyn's words. They also shed light on the prominent figures he interacts with, giving us a broader understanding of the political landscape and the dynamics of power at play during his lifetime.

Moreover, George Augustus Selwyn's efforts to include a wide range of correspondents, from the upper echelons of society to the common people, offer a comprehensive view of 18th-century England. It is fascinating to witness Selwyn's interactions with royalty, his influential role in Parliament, as well as his genuine interest in the lives of those less fortunate. These letters serve as a testament to Selwyn's multifaceted personality, as he effortlessly moved between different circles, leaving an indelible impact on all he encountered.

Despite the many strengths of "George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life," there are a few minor drawbacks. At times, the extensive footnotes and detailed explanations can disrupt the flow of the narrative, causing readers to lose some momentum. Additionally, readers who are not already familiar with the historical context may find it challenging to keep track of all the individuals and events referenced. However, given the historical nature of the book, these minor issues are to be expected and do not significantly detract from the overall reading experience.

In summary, "George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life" is a captivating and enlightening collection that offers a window into the intriguing world of 18th-century England. George Augustus Selwyn's excellent curation of letters, supplemented by thorough footnotes, paints a vivid portrait of a man who lived amidst key historical events and rubbed shoulders with influential figures. This book is a must-read for history enthusiasts, providing a deeper understanding of the social, political, and cultural nuances of the time.

First Page:


E text prepared by Marjorie Fulton


Edited by


London T. Fisher Unwin Paternoster Square



IN the histories and memoirs of the eighteenth century the name of George Selwyn often occurs. The letters which he received have afforded frequent and valuable material to the student of the reign of George the Third. A large number of these were published by the late Mr. Jesse in the four volumes entitled "George Selwyn and his Contemporaries." Except, however, that Selwyn was regarded as the first humourist of his time, little was known about him, for scarcely any letters which he wrote had until recently been found. But in the Fifteenth Report of the Historical Manuscript Commission there were printed, amongst a mass of other material, more than two hundred letters from his untiring pen which had been preserved at Castle Howard. No one who has had an opportunity of examining the originals can fail to recognise the skill and labour with which the Castle Howard correspondence of Selwyn wanting in most instances the date of the year was arranged by Mr. Kirk on behalf of the Commission.

A correspondence, however, which illustrates vividly phases of an interesting and important period of English history, appeared to be deserving of presentation to the public in a separate volume, and with the explanations necessary to make the allusions in it fully understood... Continue reading book >>

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