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The Love Letters of Dorothy Osborne

Dorothy Osborne

Book Overview: 

After refusing a long string of suitors put forth by her family, including her cousin Thomas Osborne, Henry Cromwell (son of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell) and Sir Justinian Isham, in 1655 Dorothy Osborne married Sir William Temple, a man with whom she had carried on a lengthy clandestine courtship that was largely epistolary in nature. It is for her letters to Temple, which were witty, progressive and socially illuminating, that Osborne is remembered. Only Osborne's side of the correspondence survived and comprises a collection of seventy-seven letters held in the British Library. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Lonesborough, the son of the Earl of Burleigh, and living to 1679, when she was buried in Westminster Abbey. Poor Lady Anne Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, and niece of the faithless Lady Carlisle of whom we read in these letters, was already married at this date to Lord Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's heir. She died—probably in childbed—in November of next year (1654), and was buried at Petworth with her infant son.

Lady Anne Wentworth was the daughter of the famous and ill-fated Earl of Strafford. She married Lord Rockingham.

The reader will remember that "my lady" is Lady Diana Rich.


March 5th [1653].

SIR,—I know not how to oblige so civil a person as you are more than by giving you the occasion of serving a fair lady. In sober earnest, I know you will not think it a trouble to let your boy deliver these books and this enclosed letter where it is directed for my lady, whom I would, the faines. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This book is a labour of love. Ask me again when I've finished.

And now, I have finished and it remained a labour of love for Dorothy and William and I.

My work here is done.

'Tis but an hour since you went, and I am writing to you already; is not this kind?

Dorothy Osborne (born in 1627) was the daughter of an impecunious Royalist family, who fell in love with Sir William Temple, when the pair were both about nineteen years old. Both families opposed the match, but