Letters to William Allingham

Letters to William Allingham - Helen Allingham [These notes were made in 1989:]. I daresay had Mrs. A. had her druthers, this would have been "Letters of", rather than "Letters to"; but very little of Allingham's correspondence appears to survive, and what there is represented here. With a few exceptions, the collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, which arrangement has the virtue of allowing a concentrated assessment of the character & style of each correspondent, though at the same time it irritatingly separates references to the same events & periods in Allingham's life. Among the notables who have a letter or two (or more) here: Leigh Hunt, Emerson, the Brownings, Burne-Jones, Carlyle, Clough, Dickens, George Eliot, Hawthorne, Kingsley, Landor, John Stuart Mill, Millais, Mary Mitford, Morris, Coventry Patmore, Riviere, D.G. Rossetti, Ruskin, Tennyson and Thackeray. There are, besides, a fair number of lesser celebrities, including the redoubtable George Gilfillan, and many of the lesser-known of the Pre-Raphaelites. The criteria for selection, as with the diary, seem to have been some eminence or connection with eminence. Although the personal invariably creeps in, then, nothing exclusively personal has been printed. I suspect, too, that much is silently omitted; there is in fact a case of a letter (from Burne-Jones) reproduced in facsimile, from which a sentence (a mild sarcasm on Allingham) has been entirely omitted from the printed transcript next to it! I got a kick out of seeing my Mr. Warne's name come up a couple of times (his dealings with A. were during the Routledge days). And of course there's a peculiar thrill in reading so many letters from so many famous people, even though one suspects they've been gutted. I wonder whether the originals survived? Mrs. A's efforts aside, one gets the impression that A was genuinely held in esteem by these people, which is nice. And a few people's idiosyncrasies just can't be edited away - Burne-Jones' letters, signed with self-portraits and effusively affectionate, are a delight.