Recollections of a Literary Life: Or, Books, Places, and People by Mary Russell Mitford
Better known for her five volume portrait of English rural life, Our Village, Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855) was one of the most prolific female writers of her day. Part critical essay, part autobiography, Recollections consists of a series of sketches on and selections from Mitford's favourite authors, stemming from her desire 'to make others relish a few favourite writers as heartily as I have relished them myself'. The collection is arranged according to Mitford's own eclectic system of categorization including 'fashionable poets', 'cavalier poets', and 'poetry that poets love'. This first volume contains essays on Beaumont and Fletcher, Sidney, Herrick, Samuel Johnson, and Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and several others. Mitford wears her immense literary skill lightly and Recollections is masterfully written, full of lively wit and fascinating biographical detail. Published just three years before Mitford's death, it was based on earlier articles and letters.