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Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury

Other Details
Published : 18 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : 22/8/1812
Death : 23/9/1880
Views : 2027

Novelist. Educated at a young ladies' boarding school; then received some instruction in languages and drawing. Lived for many years in Manchester. Contributed to Manchester papers, to Douglas Jerrold's Shilling Magazine; at least one article to the Westminster Review. One of her novels serialized in Manchester Examiner and Times, one in Ladies' Companion; contributed "Mediaeval Sketches" to Victoria Regia. For almost thirty years, reviewer for Athenaeum; publisher's reader for Hurst and Blackett, and, for some fifteen years, for Bentley's. Gettmann, A Victorian Publisher, quotes many of her incisive, outspoken judgments on MSS submitted to Bentley's. Author of Zoe, 1845, which shocked many readers but was very popular in the circulating libraries; The Half-Sisters, 1848; The Sorrows of Gentility, 1856, dedicated to John Forster; and three other novels; also two children's books. In 1874 granted Civil List pension of £40 a year "In consideration of her services to literature" (Colles, Literature and the Pension List). Remembered chiefly for her friendship with the Carlyles; Mrs. Carlyle, writing in 1854, called her "the most intimate friend I have in the world" (Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, ed. Froude, II, 246).

By the time that H.W. began, in 1850, Miss Jewsbury had published her first two novels. In February of that year, Dickens wrote to her: "Dear Miss Jewsbury,—I make no apology for addressing you thus, for I am a reader of yours, and I hope I have that knowledge of you which may justify a frank approach". His letter was an urgent request that Miss Jewsbury contribute to his forthcoming journal: "... if I could induce you to write any papers or short stories for it I should, I sincerely assure you, set great store by your help, and be much gratified in having it". Payment, wrote Dickens, was to be "prompt and good", and he would "be truly earnest" in his desire to make Miss Jewsbury's connection with the journal most agreeable to her. "If I were to write a whole book on the subject I hardly know that I could do more than impress you with a sense of my being in want of your aid, because I estimate its value highly" (Selections from the Letters of Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury, ed. Mrs. A. Ireland, p. xi).

Miss Jewsbury hardly seemed eager to become a contributor. To Mrs. Carlyle, in a letter postmarked March 9 1850, she wrote: " ... I had to answer the letter Dickens sent me, and I told him I would write him something suitable as soon as I had time; that, though I never kept my MS. on hand, yet I had written out a little tale which I believed was true; that it was in your hands, and, if he liked, he might have it; and that I would ask you to send it on to him ...". Mrs. Carlyle had obviously raised some objections to the story, and Miss Jewsbury, on reconsidering them, added a postscript to her letter: " ... I think you are right about the story. So put it into the fire, and tell Dickens you did so by my directions. Just write him a line that he may not be expecting anything from me ..." (Selections, pp. 363-64). Perhaps Miss Jewsbury again changed her mind about the "little tale" that she believed to be true, for in a H.W. number of the following month appeared her "Young Jew of Tunis", which she informed readers was a true account. About a year later Miss Jewsbury sent Dickens a packet of material, partly by herself, partly by another writer, which Dickens did not find suited to H.W. "I must confess", he wrote, June 25, 1851, "to a little disappointment when I found that your packet was not all your own". Miss Jewsbury may have been on a visit to London at the time; Dickens, to avoid disruption of his days by visitors to the Great Exhibition who arrived with letters of introduction to him, had "taken refuge" at Broadstairs. "I fear I may not have the pleasure, consequently, of seeing you", he wrote. "But it would give me great pleasure to improve our personal acquaintance, and to tell you how very glad I should be, if you could find time to write something for Household Words" (Howe, Geraldine Jewsbury, pp. 207-208). Some months later Miss Jewsbury did send in a contribution, and Dickens wrote to Wills, September 27: "I want Miss Jewsbury's paper. I must read it myself, and write to her". The paper referred to was probably rejected; the date of Dickens's letter makes it unlikely that his reference should be to "A Curious Page of Family History", published December 6.

Harper's reprinted "A Curious Page of Family History" and "A Forgotten Celebrity" without acknowledgment to H.W.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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