Letterlocking: How did you fold a letter in the early modern period and what did it mean?

First impressions are important. When I receive mail – physical items by post, that is – simply the size and shape of the envelope tells me something about the sender. A5-sized envelopes (well, C5-sized, but you know what I mean; ditto below) tend to be bills or notes from the bank, A6 and smaller are […]

Counting correspondence, listing letters

A number of years ago, I gave a talk on mapping correspondence – that is, about the ways in which you can plot letters and epistolary exchanges on a map. Perhaps the most important point arising from that talk, for me anyway, was the understanding that mapping correspondence was by no means a straightforward matter. […]

Datamoaning

At the beginning of this week, I attended the two-day Big Data Approaches to Intellectual and Linguistic History symposium at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. Since Tuesday, I’ve found myself pondering on topics that came up at the symposium. So I thought I would write up my thoughts in order to unload them […]

No signal, just noise

One of the (oh too many) things I work on is code-switching* in historical texts. Or, more broadly, how multilingual environments are reflected in Early Modern English (merchants’) letter-writing. In particular I’ve done some work on the letters of early English East India Company merchants – some of it published – and then of course a […]

Did English spelling variation end in the 1630s?

1. Early Modern English spelling variation Yesterday, rather late in the evening, I followed a link on Twitter: So there's an EEBO-TCP spelling variation google ngram browser http://t.co/OLxUv5NLBQ (via @dr_heil) — heather froehlich (@heatherfro) April 24, 2014 This led to the great Early Modern Print : Text Mining Early Printed English website where there was […]

Kindness is the child of money

Thomas Wilson (c. 1565-1629; ODNB link) – among other things, intelligencer, secretary to Sir Robert Cecil, MP, and Keeper of the State Papers at Whitehall – left quite an impressive paper trail of his life post-1600. Yet thus far I have only come across one letter from him to a family member, being CP 83/47 […]

The reliability of “Winwood’s Memorials”

The three-volume Memorials of affairs of state in the reigns of Q. Elizabeth and K. James I, collected (chiefly) from the original papers of … Sir Ralph Winwood, edited by Edmund Sawyer, published in 1725 (2nd ed. 1727), is a hugely convenient work for those working on late Elizabethan and early Stuart State Papers, since […]

Sir Charles Cornwallis in his valley of misery

The first English Ambassador in Spain post-Elizabeth, Sir Charles Cornwallis, got bit of a rough deal. English trade with Spain had just been opened up again (in 1604), but relations were still somewhat strained, and many English merchants found themselves in trouble in Spain – some of it their own causing, but much of it not. These […]