As previously threatened, we have continued to work on the edition announced as ‘completed’ last December. My main preoccupation recently has been social networks, and detailed sampling of ‘mentionees’ has led to correction of some person references, occasionally nearby text. MDC now displays all revisions up to 19 February 2024.

The work had prompted me to look closely at undated letters in the hope that some could at least be assigned to one of the five periods of Mary Hamilton's life, and there is substantial change to the metadata of letter HAM/1/9/97. This had previously been catalogued as addressed to Mary Hamilton at an unknown date. Nope. It was sent to John Dickenson over twenty years after Mary’s death, condoling with him on the poignant fact that their beloved daughter Louisa, the only child to survive infancy, had pre-deceased both her husband and her father.1 Louisa had been unwell for some time. She was 50 years old, her father 80. He records her death in his diary for 25 July 1837:

It has pleased Almighty God to take to himself my truly excllent & only Child — She expired at 8 OClock this morning — God's Will be done. Amen.

(DDX 274/29 p.240)

In reading through Dickenson's diary around that date, I came across this entry for 8 February 1837:

Fletcher called at 4 when I signed my Consent to the Rail Road going thrō Birch – he sets out for Lancashire this Evg.

(DDX 274/29 p.164)

Wow!  ‘A window onto eighteenth-century life, literature and language’ is what our home page asserts, and so it is, but here was a reminder that the Mary Hamilton Papers extends well into the nineteenth century too. The future railway in question is presumably the line from Manchester London Road (now Manchester Piccadilly), branching south-west after Levenshulme to run via Burnage and Cheadle to Crewe (see this early 20C map of Manchester in MDC).

Another kind of network, the personal kind, is proving very rewarding. A network visualisation for the period when Mary Hamilton lived in Clarges Street has been on the project website for a couple of months now, and we have just added one for her adolescence. I hope that the remaining three periods won’t take too long to complete.

The project website has a few other improvements:

  • The Personography and Correspondents pages include a few recent corrections.
  • For items of correspondence, the downloadable Excel list of all documents in the edition now includes place of sending and of receipt (where known).
  • Various listings of publications, talks, etc. have been updated (under the Reference tab).
  • There are new examples of text searches which may help users to get more out of the semantic tagging.

And a final newsflash. The edited volume, Mary Hamilton and her networks: Gender, sociability and manuscript, is making good progress, with expected publication 2025.

David Denison



1 HAM/1/9/97 has now been transcribed, and the transcription will be added to the edition in a future refresh. The writer has been tentatively identified as Sir Edward Hamilton.