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MS Hyde 35

Piozzi, Hester Lynch, 1741-1821. Hester Lynch Piozzi manuscripts: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b, Hyde Case 9
Call No.: MS Hyde 35
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Piozzi, Hester Lynch, 1741-1821
Title: Hester Lynch Piozzi manuscripts,
Date(s): 1765-1820.
Quantity: 1 collection (1 box and 9 volumes (1.6 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English, French, and Italian.
Abstract: Diaries, poems, and other papers of author and friend of Samuel Johnson.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

*2003JM-59 (part), *2003JM-94, *2003JM-101-107, *2003JM-145(f). All material from *2003JM-59 unless otherwise noted. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Rick Stattler

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Hester Lynch Piozzi Manuscripts (MS Hyde 35). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Other important Piozzi manuscripts are held at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester; the National Library of Wales; and Princeton University Library. The Houghton Library also holds a five-volume commonplace book and journal known as the Piozziana, MS Eng 1280.

Biographical / Historical

Hester Lynch Salusbury was born in Wales in 1741, and in 1763 married wealthy London brewer Henry Thrale (1728-1781). Only four of their twelve children survived to adulthood: Hester Maria Elphinstone, Viscountess Keith (1764-1857); Susanna Arabella Thrale (1770-1858); Sophia Thrale Hoare (1771-1824); and Cecilia Thrale Mostyn (1777-1857). The Thrales divided their time between two London residences: at the brewery compound in Southwark, and at a larger country house at Streatham Park. After the Thrales were introduced to Samuel Johnson in 1765, Streatham Park became the center of an important coterie of literary, artistic, and political figures.
Henry Thrale died in 1781. In 1784, Hester married Gabriele Mario Piozzi (1740-1809), an Italian musician. The marriage was widely viewed as scandalous in London society, and terminated Hester's long friendship with Johnson. The Piozzis embarked on a tour of Europe for two and a half years, leaving her four daughters dispersed in England under the supervision of Henry Thrale's executors.
The Piozzis built a country house at Brynbella in Wales, and settled there as their primary residence from 1794 to 1809. Piozzi's young nephew John Salusbury Piozzi came to live with the Piozzis in 1798. Gabriele Mario Piozzi died in 1809, and shortly afterwards John was formally adopted as Hester's primary heir, assuming the name Sir John Salusbury Piozzi Salusbury (1793-1858). Hester spent most of her final years in Bath, England.
Hester Lynch Piozzi's publications included Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1786); Letters to and from the Late Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1788), and Retrospection, or, a Review of the Most Important and Striking Events, Characters, Situations, and their Consequences, which the Last Eighteen Hundred Years have Presented to the View of Mankind (1801).


Balderston, Katherine C., ed., Thraliana: The Diary of Mrs. Hester Lynch Thrale (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1942) Broadley, A.M., Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale (London: John Lane, 1910) Clifford, James L., Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs. Thrale) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1941) Hayward, A., ed., Autobiography, Letters, and Literary Remains of Mrs. Piozzi (Thrale), 2nd edition (London: Longman et al., 1861) Hyde, Mary, The Impossible Friendship: Boswell and Mrs. Thrale (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972) Hyde, Mary, The Thrales of Streatham Park (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977) McCarthy, William, Hester Thrale Piozzi: Portrait of a Literary Woman (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985) Smith, Margaret M., et al., Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Volume III, Part 4 (London: Mansell Publishing, 1992) IV


The papers are arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of Mrs. Piozzi's literary manuscripts and diaries. Of particular significance are two diaries: the Children's Book covering 1766-1778, item (3), and a diary of a 1774 trip to Wales with Samuel Johnson, item (32); and a quasi-diary covering 1809-1820 titled A New Common Place Book, item (18). The collection also includes two volumes of Piozzi's manuscript poetry, items (4) and (5); two drafts of her unpublished book Lyford Redivivus, item (16); and a large portion of the manuscript of Retrospection, item (24).

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