Home  »  Volume X: English THE AGE OF JOHNSON  »  § 17. The Warwickshire Circle and its connecting Links

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

XI. Letter-Writers

§ 17. The Warwickshire Circle and its connecting Links

Somewhat apart from the more famous letter-writers of the age stood a circle of friends, some of whom might be described as in the great world while none were exactly of it, whose correspondence, and more general literary work, are full of interest. They were all, at one time or another, dwellers in Warwickshire or on its borders, lived at no great distance from each other and wrote frequently when they did not meet. Perhaps the poet Shenstone is the most obvious link between them: they all were acquainted with him, if they were not all personally known to each other. The circle includes Henrietta Lady Luxborough, of Barrels near Henley-in-Arden; Frances duchess of Somerset, one of whose residence was Ragley near Alcester; Richard Graves, who belonged to the family which owned Mickleton, not actually in Warwickshire but not far from Stratford-on-Avon; Richard Jago, who was vicar of Harbury and held other cures in the county; William Somerville, of Edstone near Henley; and it was completed by persons who were not so much writers themselves as friends of men of letters, such as Anthony Whistler (who had been at Pembroke college, Oxford, with Graves and Shenstone), and Sanderson Miller, antiquary and architect, the builder of the tower on Edge-hill commemorated by Jago in his poem. Nearly all of these wrote good letters, which were published, and most of them at least dabbled in literature also, in light verse or easy prose. And all were more or less in the net of the omnivorous publisher Robert Dodsley, who did a great deal to make Shenstone and the Leasowes famous.