Collection Scope and Content Summary
Title: Ann Harris correspondence
Date (inclusive): 1804-1807
Date (bulk): 1805-1807
Collection Number: MS 265
1.25 linear feet
(1 flat storage box)
Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
This collection is primarily composed of autograph
letters and drafts written by Ann Harris and Richard Chandler between October 1804
and September 1807. The bulk of the material is finished letters written from Harris
to Chandler. Material attributed to Chandler consists of nine draft letters to
Harris. This collection also includes a small selection of letters written by
friends and family of the main correspondents. Topics include local society gossip,
working-class social conditions, courtship, love and marriage, and financial
Languages: The collection is in English.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the University of California, Riverside Libraries,
Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote
from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections
& Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Regents of the
University of California as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to
include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by
[identification of item]. Ann Harris papers, MS 265. University of
California, Riverside Libraries, Special Collections & Archives, University of
Processed by Sara Seltzer, 2009.
While nothing is known about Ann Harris or Richard Chandler apart from the contents
of this collection, their three-year correspondence provides tremendous insight into
the history of working-class women in early nineteenth-century England. The finished
letters of Ann Harris tell a story of a woman constantly searching for independence
and self-worth in a social class without privilege and only limited freedom. The
drafts of Richard Chandler, though minimal both in extent and information, present a
man in pursuit of love and happiness struggling to attain what he most wants. The
words of Harris and Chandler reveal a deeply loving and troubled relationship that
echoes the difficult realities of working-class life at this time.
From 1804 to 1805, Harris was employed as a governess, and briefly a nurse, in the
English town of Hereford, County Herefordshire. The fall of 1804 marked the
beginning of her aquaintance with Richard Chandler, a young man from the country
village of Prestbury, County Gloucestershire. In her correspondence, Harris confided
the hardships and frustrations of working-class life to her new friend. Her letters
are often filled with descriptions of exhausting work days and the lack of freedom
associated with such a lifestyle. Ann's day-to-day existence was significantly
circumscribed by the obligations owed to her employers, duties that limited both her
social life and her privacy. Indeed, Harris' relationship with Chandler was greatly
affected by her situation, her letters pointing to meetings arranged clandestinely,
the risk of discovery never entirely eliminated or avoided.
Despite such obstacles, Harris and Chandler perpetuated a promising romance that led
to an engagement in October, 1805. In November of that year, however, Ann was given
the opportunity to work for her brother in London, a position she eagerly wished to
take. With Richard's blessing, she took up residence with her brother, working in
his newly purchased public house as a barmaid. Harris' tenure in London, rather than
granting her the liberation and independence she desperately craved, was plagued
with additional unhappiness. Her letters of this period speak of dashed hopes and
continued feelings of imprisonment, sentiments that fueled her decision to break all
ties with Chandler in August, 1806.
Though Ann's silence was not permanent, communication with Chandler resuming by
February, 1807, the prospect of one day marrying is notably absent from her
subsequent correspondence. Harris' remaining letters for the year 1807 emphasize her
loyal friendship to Richard and her ever-present desire to find and secure a better
opportunity for herself. Richard's drafts, on the other hand, point to a renewed
desire on his part to not only correspond with Ann, but still fulfill the dream of a
happy marriage with her.
The abrupt termination of their correspondence in September, 1807 thus provokes many
unanswered questions. In her last letter to Chandler, Harris' decision to again stop
all communication is credited to Richard's ignoring a loan request made by her in
August. However, the absence of further responsive drafts by Chandler leaves the
couple's tumultuous correspondence without closure. Though financial troubles appear
to be responsible, attributing the split to a single cause would be simplistic. The
sudden end to the documented relationship between Ann Harris and Richard Chandler
must be viewed against the broad social context which defines the collection.
||Ann Harris began corresponding with Richard Chandler in
||Harris moved from Cheltenham, County Gloucestershire to Newnham,
County Gloucestershire in October.
||Harris moved to Hereford, County Herefordshire in November to work as
||Harris was employed as a nurse from July to September.
||Harris and Richard Chandler became engaged in October.
||Harris departed for London in December.
||Harris arrived in London in January to work for her brother.
||Harris broke her engagement and all correspondence with Richard
Chandler in August.
||Harris resumed correspondence with Richard Chandler in
||Harris asked Richard Chandler to lend her money in August.
||Harris decided to again terminate correspondence with Richard
Chandler in September.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
This collection is primarily composed of autograph letters and drafts written by Ann
Harris and Richard Chandler between October 1804 and September 1807. The bulk of the
material is finished letters written from Harris to Chandler. Material attributed to
Chandler consists of nine draft letters to Harris. This collection also includes a
small selection of letters written by friends and family of the main correspondents.
Topics include local society gossip, working-class social conditions, courtship,
love and marriage, and financial concerns.
This collection is arranged into four series:
- Series 1. Correspondence 1804.
- Series 2. Correspondence 1805.
- Series 3. Correspondence 1806.
- Series 4. Correspondence 1807.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Manners and Customs.
Genres and Forms of Materials