16 June 2016: Elizabeth Greenly's Signed Letters of Horace Walpole
As mentioned in our previous post, we have recently acquired several lots from the sale of the Titley Court Greenly family library. The Greenly family, particularly Lady Greenly, had quite the high ranking social circle. Several names appeared in her diaries including Byron, Hannah More and Lady Oxford.
One set in particular from the Greenly collection demonstrates the high social circle of the Greenly family. We have a three volume set of Horace Walpole's correspondence to Sir Horace Mann. This three volume collection has a signed note from Walpole himself, dated May 22 1787, pasted to the front pastedown of the first volume. The note permits his housekeeper to show 'Mr and Mrs Master & two more' his Strawberry Hill house. It is evident from this that one of the 'two more' mentioned by the Earl of Orford in his note must be a Greenly family member, possibly Lady Greenly herself.
Strawberry Hill is a Gothic revival villa in an affluent area of London named after the house in question. It was designed by Horace Walpole and is internationally famous as the finest example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture in Britain. It was a tourist attraction during Walpole's lifetime and he allowed four visitors a day and published rules for their guidance. The note to the title page indicates that Mr and Mrs Masters and the 'two more' were the four allowed to visit this day. Often, when the four visitors a day were touring, Walpole would retire to his cottage and allow his housekeeper to give the tour.
The letters were published after Sir Horace's death and the note would have been 46 years old when these three volumes were published and acquired by Lady Greenly.
There is even more intrigue to the provenance of this set as Sir Walpole's private letters were given to the public via secretive means. They were originally printed under the possession of the Earl of Waldergrave. The Earl was left a note, to be read after Walpole's will, detailing that there was a chest of letters, the location of said letters, and where the hidden key could be found. Upon discovering these letters Waldergrave found them already arranged into three volumes with notes from Walpole, prepared for publication.
This set is just one of the hundreds of fascinating books we have recently listed on our website from the Greenly family library; there are so many more to take a look at.