Samuel Johnson's

Samuel Johnson's "Lady": The Letter Writer as Artist and Historian


Download To Speak Feb. 18: Bloom Is Thorp Lecturer, article, What's News @ Rhode Island College, Vol. 1 No. 20, February 9, 1981 (3.9 MB)


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Lillian Bloom, recipient of the 1981 Mary Tucker Thorp Professoriship, discussed in this lecture her on-going research which would eventually culminate in a multi-volumed edition of the letters of the "lady", Hester Lynch (Thrale) Piozzi, compiled and edited by Professor Lillian Bloom and her partner, Professor Edward A. Bloom.

"In the sparkling and essentially masculine society of late t8th Century and Regency England, (Hester Piozzi) was a celebrity in her own right: author, traveller, social renegade ... She was the intimate friend and correspondent of such redoubtable figures as Samuel Johhson, David Garrick, Sarah Siddons, Edmund Burke, and Charles and Fanny Burney, to name but a few. Through salon and correspondence, she was on familiar terms with the great and near great, with dignitaries of Church and State, with nobility, with celebrated scientists and antiquaries of England and Europe. Remarkable for her wit, conversational brio, intelligence and learning, Mrs. Piozzi was a letter-writer of exceptional literary quality in a letter-writing age. Indeed, she excels." ·

Professor Bloom brought together - from a variety of private and public repositories - approximately 1,400 letters, most of them hitherto unpublished and often almost inaccessible. They are letters which offer fresh even surprising insights into lives and events ranging from the personal and affective to the public and history-making. They recount everything from Hester Piozzi's own domestic peccadilloes to the French Revolution to the rakish scandals of a dissolute English court. "Through all these letters, the responsive voice of Mrs. Piozzi rings forth with memorable charm, authority, and wisdom," says Professor Bloom. "If she recreates for twentieth century readers an era now almost 200 years distant, she also creates for the first time, and 'in her expressive idiom, an autobiography of complex dimensions."


David Green

Contributor Role


Document Type

Spring Lecture




Further Reading:

Piozzi, H. L., Bloom, E. A., & Bloom, L. D. (1989). The Piozzi letters: Correspondence of Hester Lynch Piozzi, 1784-1821 (formerly Mrs. Thrale). Newark: University of Delaware Press.

Call Number (James P. Adams Library):

SP COLL PR3619.P5 Z48 1989 FacPubn




Thorp Lecture

19810218-R067.pdf (3946 kB)
To Speak Feb. 18: Bloom Is Thorp Lecturer, article, What's News @ Rhode Island College, Vol. 1 No. 20, February 9, 1981

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Samuel Johnson's