Thursday 23rd November 2017

Venue: Chawton House

6.30pm drinks reception for 7.00pm talk.

The Bisset Love Letters 1803-1828: a real life Pride and Prejudice story

Dr Diane Lovell (Blinn College, Bryan, Texas)

Discovered in a Cotswolds’ cottage, a stash of over 110 Regency-era love letters penned by the Reverend George Bisset, Vicar of Malmesbury Abbey to Lady Catherine Howard, only daughter of the Earl of Suffolk & Berkshire, tell a love story with certain similarities to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. However, in this real-life story, it was the woman, Lady Catherine Howard, who possessed wealth and social status, whilst her male admirer, a non-descript Oxford-educated vicar, had little of either. Lady Catherine, after heart-wrenching debate and citing familial duty, refused Rev Bisset’s proposals, and he sailed for Ceylon (Sri Lanka). But this was not the end of their relationship.

In this talk, Diane Lovell charts their courtship, exploring the fascinating details about class, wealth, gender, courtship, marriage, anxiety, and foreign evangelism, revealed by their letters.



Dr Diane Lovell is currently Professor of History at Blinn College in Texas. Over the last ten years she has served as Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Houston Baptist University and District Dean of Social Science at Blinn College. Before her administrative career, Dr Lovell enjoyed teaching British & European history to American university students, and researching 14th century English legal history and papal relations. Today she enjoys living in the history-rich Cotswold village where she discovered the Bisset Love Letters for three months a year.


Tickets: £11; Students / Friends £8.50

To book, call us on 01420 541010 or book online here (subject to Eventbrite booking fee).

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