Lot 33
Sold for £780 (US$ 1,309) inc. premium
Lot Details
Three autograph letters signed, to Davies Gilbert MP, about her novels and other writing ("...I was also highly gratified by learning that my little tale of 'Fitz of Fitz-ford' had given You some amusement. Since it appeared I have published another work of a similar nature, though the scene is laid in a foreign country – it is called 'The Talba; or Moor of Portugal' Some of my literary friends prefer it to 'Fitz-ford'... I am now about finishing another tale founded on a tradition of Devon, that I commenced some months ago... When it shall be completed, I have some thoughts of commencing a work, the peculiar Plan of which was kindly suggested to me by Mr Southey, the Poet Laureate – It is a local History of this place, to be written in a popular form... I want to find some friend who could give me a little assistance in the botanical and mineralogical department..."), alluding to her struggles for literary recognition ("...I have not only been a sufferer by repeated disappointments, but for want of a friend in the literary world, who would have the good will as well as the power, to notice me in any of the leading periodicals of the day, my works have been so kept back, that, but for approbation of men... like Mr Polwhele... I should have been tempted, more than once, to throw down the pen in despair of getting forward on the road to success..."), and thanking him for his interest in "my poor protegée" [the servant-poet Maria Colling], whose "little volume" is due out in October, 10 pages, address panels, postmarks, 4to and 8vo, Tavistock, 1830-1834


  • A fine illustration of the modus operandi of a female writer early in the 19th century: "By 1826 Bray had devoted herself full-time to writing fiction... In 1828 she published The White Hoods and The Protestant, followed by The Talba and Fitz of Fitz-Ford: a Legend of Devon in 1830. In her Autobiography she maintained that she spent about three months writing each work of fiction, and the correction of proofs often overlapped with the writing of the next novel... about this time Bray and Robert Southey began a correspondence... Bray recalled that it was Southey's interest in The Talba... which first led him to write to her. Attracted to her talents in descriptive writing and to her sensitivity to local history, he suggested that she gather the stories of her Devon area, and this became A Description of the Part of Devonshire Bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy (1836), a three-volume collection of stories and information she compiled between February 1832 and October 1835. Her efforts led to her acquaintance with Maria Colling, a local servant–poet, whose works Bray edited as The Fables and other Pieces of Verse by Maria Colling (1831) and to which Southey contributed a brief life of the poet" (Beverly E. Schneller, ODNB).
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