The Letters of Samuel Pepys by Guy de la Bédoyère (ed) - review by Gillian Darley

Gillian Darley

Jousts on Paper

The Letters of Samuel Pepys

By

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When Samuel Pepys kept copies of his letters they were always exactly as sent; John Evelyn, his constant correspondent, copied out an appropriate selection of his, having given them a polish, presumably in the hope that they would be viewed as models of the epistolary art by successive generations. This, like the fundamental difference between their respective diaries, one so frank and spontaneous, the other so circumspect and considered, helps us understand the differences in aspiration and personality between the two men, devoted friends as they were for some forty years. 

Yet Pepys’s letters are rarely the sparkling, spontaneous missives that the private man of the diary might lead us to expect. There have been editions of his letters before, but all except the present author’s edition of the entire surviving exchange between him and Evelyn (a few of which are

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