“If writing were an effort to me I should not now be alive, but must have
been absolument épuisée; and it might have been inserted in the bills of mortality
– “dead of letter-writing A. Opie”.’ (Brightwell 334)
The letters of Amelia Opie offer a varied and fascinating portrait of one of the most popular women writers of the early nineteenth century. Her correspondents range from the leaders of radical thought in the 1790s to the key figures in the Quaker faith in 1840s, forming a veritable who’s who of political and social life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century: William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sir James Mackintosh, Caroline Lamb, Elizabeth Inchbald, Joanna Baillie, William Hayley, Lord Brougham, Elizabeth Fry, Joseph John Gurney, Elizabeth Cady Staunton, Mary Russell Mitford and Barbara Bodichon to name some of the most familiar. Her topics of discussion extend from the domestic to the professional to the political, offering an intimate sense of the personal and public life of a woman who was both coquette and bluestocking, radical sympathizer and devout Christian. Brightwell’s biography of Opie quotes generously (if highly selectively as Isabelle Cosgrave has shown) from Opie’s letters. Researchers with access to the Pforzheimer Collection of the New York Public library are able to consult a Graingerized version of Brightwell’s volume which includes many of the original letters tipped in. Displayed here are several projects aimed at improving scholarship on Opie’s correspondence.