MARY CARPENTER Autograph letter Signed.
British (English) social, educational and penal reformer, suffragist, campaigner against the slave-trade and philanthropist.
ALS. 4pp. Red Lodge House. February 13th 1865. To "Dear Esther".
We have found the handwriting of Mary Carpenter a little challenging in places (but a little patience would, no doubt, be repaid). The gist is as follows: "Will you kindly send at once and by parcel delivery a copy of the 2nd volume of 'Our Convicts' to the editor of the Illustrated News at their office, 198 Strand. Mr Acton says he has not received a copy. I fear there have been many mistakes this time as I have too many 2nd vols. Please to keep a list of what copies of those 10 are sent off. I have had very favourable and friendly reviews; the 'Inquirer' as usual on that subject cold & dry; not one has yet grasped, however, the meaning of the book in the smallest degree. It is a comfort however that those who understand the subject are perfectly satisfied; the Baron Von [H. . .?] & Mr [Ma. . .?] wrote very warmly, and I have reason to hope that many thoughtful persons are reading it, so I must wait patiently for the [. . ?] to spring up, & am only thankful to have been thus [. . .?] to bear a testimony which will remain, to principles of the highest importance to the well being and morality of the country:- if one tenth of this kind of thought which are devoted to speculation and theology were given to extending the reign of [. . . ?] by converting sinners, how different would the world be! I shall be glad when you have finished theology and are engaged in the [. . .?] Reading Miss Aitkin's letters has led me to open Channing and I am interested in perceiving how completely my reformatory work is in accordance with his views. Your affectionate Aunt," [etc]
12mo. Approx 6 x 4 inches. Very slight mounting traces to left margin of first leaf. Fine.
'Our Convicts' by Mary Carpenter was published in London by Longmans in 2 volumes in 1864 and 1865. It appears that some of the reviewers were sent the first volume but had not received the second. The 'Inquirer' was a Unitarian newspaper in which Mary Carpenter published several works and articles before they appeared in book form.
Mary Carpenter was one of the foremost public speakers of her time and championed many causes. She is, perhaps, best remembered for the huge contribution she made to educational and penal reform. She opened "ragged schools" to give an education to the children of the poor and introduced reformatories for young offenders. Mary Carpenter also campaigned for better education for women and reforms to prisons. Following a meeting with the escaped slave, Frederick Douglass, Mary Carpenter became a fervent opposer of the slave trade, particularly the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. She travelled extensively in America, Europe and India, where she also sought reforms similar to those she pursued in Britain. She was a pioneer in the field of equality for women and stood almost alone as a female orator who was widely listened to and respected. Not all criticism was favourable, however, and in 1864 (the year prior to this letter), her books and her work were condemned by Pope Pius IX.