Held at The John Rylands Library, Manchester, the Mary Hamilton Papers are a valuable, but still largely untapped resource for linguistic, cultural and literary studies focussing on the late eighteenth century. In her diaries Lady Mary Hamilton (1756-1816) documents daily life and friendships with intellectual figures of the time, for instance Horace Walpole and members of the Bluestocking circle, which included Elizabeth Montagu and Frances Burney. The archive also contains letters written to Lady Mary Hamilton by her family and other members of her social network.
The aim of this project is to prepare a digital edition of materials from the Mary Hamilton Papers with TEI-conformant XML mark-up, in which both a facsimile of the manuscripts and their transliterations (preserving the original spelling, punctuation and layout) will be displayed. In addition, the edition will offer rich meta-data and mark-up of places, persons and literary works, as well as normalized spellings, which will assist searches for linguistic features differing from Present-day English such as (non-)capitalisation (e.g. english, Breakfast) and past tense spellings like dress’d and staid.
Drawing on material from the Mary Hamilton Papers and the Corpus of Late Modern English Prose, we provide a case study to illustrate the usefulness of the Mary Hamilton Papers for the study of language change and social networks in the Late Modern period.
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