I have two handwritings (both equally bad in these days)

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1454.]

To Joseph and Elizabeth Pennell [Colvin 1912, pp. 203-204]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, Late July, 1885.]

Dear Sir and Madam,

This horrible delay must be forgiven me. It was not caused by any want of gratitude; but by the desire to acknowledge the dedication more suitably (and to display my wit) in a copy of verses. Well, now I give that up, and tell you in plain prose, that you have given me much pleasure by the dedication of your graceful book.

Joseph Pennell (1857-1926), American etcher, had married Elizabeth Robins (1855-1936) in 1884 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Joseph Pennell (1857-1926), American etcher [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Joseph Pennell, by William Strang, 1903 [www.victorianweb.org]

Joseph Pennell, by William Strang, 1903 [www.victorianweb.org]

Elizabeth Robins (1855-1936), American writer, had married Joseph Pennell in 1884 [http://2.bp.blogspot.com]

Elizabeth Robins (1855-1936), American writer, had married Joseph Pennell in 1884 [http://2.bp.blogspot.com]

Elizabeth Pennell in 1885, by her husband [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Elizabeth Pennell in 1885, by her husband [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

https://ia801408.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/23/items/canterburypilgri00penniala/canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2.zip&file=canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2/canterburypilgri00penniala_0007.jp2&scale=4.246835443037975&rotate=0

The book described the travel made by the Pennells, cycling pioneers, and was published in June 1885 [https://ia801408.us.archive.org]

https://ia801408.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/23/items/canterburypilgri00penniala/canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2.zip&file=canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2/canterburypilgri00penniala_0009.jp2&scale=4.246835443037975&rotate=0

‘A Canterbury Pilgrimage’ with text by Mrs. Pennell and illustrations her husband, published in June 1885, bore the didication to RLS.

As I was writing the above, I received a visit from Lady Shelley, who mentioned to me that she was reading Mrs. Pennell’s Mary Wollstonecraft with pleasure.

https://ia800303.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/18/items/marywollstonecr00penn/marywollstonecr00penn_jp2.zip&file=marywollstonecr00penn_jp2/marywollstonecr00penn_0011.jp2&scale=4.43801652892562&rotate=0%C3%B9

The English edition of Elizabeth Pennell’s ‘Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’ appeared in May 1885.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1759–97), mother-in-law of Percy Bysshe Shelley, early feminist and wife of the Enlightenment anarchist William Godwin [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1759–97), mother-in-law of Percy Bysshe Shelley, early feminist and wife of the Enlightenment anarchist William Godwin [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Sir Percy Florence Shelley (1819-89) the and only surviving child of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft [http://knarf.english.upenn.edu]

Sir Percy Florence Shelley (1819-89) the and only surviving child of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft [http://knarf.english.upenn.edu]

Caricature of Sir Percy Florence Shelley,

Caricature of Sir Percy Florence Shelley, “The Poet’s Son”, 1879 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Lady Shelley: Jane Gibson St. John married in 1848 Percy Florence Shelley when she was a 28-year-old widow. Around the time of Mary Shelley’s death in 1851 they moved to Boscombe Manor near Bournemouth, where he lived until his death in 1889 [http://shelleysghost.bodleian.ox.ac.uk]

Jane Gibson St. John married Sir Percy Florence Shelley in 1848, when she was a 28-year-old widow. Around the time of Mary Shelley’s death in 1851 they moved to Boscombe Manor near Bournemouth, where he lived until his death in 1889 [http://shelleysghost.bodleian.ox.ac.uk]

 

It is odd how streams cross. Mr. Pennel’s work, I have, of course, long known and admired:

J. Pennell, Plow Inn Yard, 1881; etching [www.allinsongallery.com]

J. Pennell, Plow Inn Yard, 1881; etching [www.allinsongallery.com]

J. Pennell, Bethlehem Steel Works in May 1881 [http://imgc.allpostersimages.com]

J. Pennell, Bethlehem Steel Works in May 1881 [http://imgc.allpostersimages.com]

J. Pennell. Delphine's New Orleans, 1882 [www.philaprintshop.com]

J. Pennell. Delphine’s New Orleans, 1882 [www.philaprintshop.com]

J. Pennell, The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, 1883 [www.victorianweb.org]

J. Pennell, The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, 1883 [www.victorianweb.org]

J. Pennell, A Temple Bar, 1885 [http://archive.cnx.org]

J. Pennell, A Temple Bar, 1885 [http://archive.cnx.org]

J. Pennell, Christ Church, Canterbury, ca. 1885 [www.philaprintshop.com]

J. Pennell, Christ Church, Canterbury, ca. 1885 [www.philaprintshop.com]

J. Pennell, Le Puy Temple [https://woodmereartmuseum.org]

J. Pennell, Le Puy Temple [https://woodmereartmuseum.org]

J. Pennell, Out of my London window [http://paintingandframe.com]

J. Pennell, Out of my London window [http://paintingandframe.com]

J. Pennell, Letter L, self-portrait of the artist, seated [www.lib.udel.edu]

J. Pennell, Letter L, self-portrait of the artist, seated [www.lib.udel.edu]

 

and I believe there was once some talk, on the part of Mr. Gilder, that we should work together; but the scheme fell through from my rapacity; and since then has been finally rendered impossible (or so I fear) by my health.

Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909), editor of the Century Magazine, NY [http://image1.findagrave.com]

Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909), editor of the Century Magazine, NY [http://image1.findagrave.com]

I should say that when I received the Pilgrimage, I was in a state (not at all common with me) of depression; and the pleasant testimony that my work had not all been in vain did much to set me up again.

https://ia601408.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/23/items/canterburypilgri00penniala/canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2.zip&file=canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2/canterburypilgri00penniala_0015.jp2&scale=4.246835443037975&rotate=0

The 1880s was an exhilarating time for cycling pioneers like Elizabeth and Joseph Pennell.

https://ia601408.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/23/items/canterburypilgri00penniala/canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2.zip&file=canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2/canterburypilgri00penniala_0016.jp2&scale=4.246835443037975&rotate=0

https://ia601408.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/23/items/canterburypilgri00penniala/canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2.zip&file=canterburypilgri00penniala_jp2/canterburypilgri00penniala_0021.jp2&scale=4.246835443037975&rotate=0

You will therefore understand, late as is the hour, with what sincerity I am able to sign myself –  Gratefully yours,

Robert Louis Stevenson

Mr. And Mrs. Pennell,

I see I should explain that this is all in my own hand, I have not fobbed you off with an amanuensis; but as I have two handwritings (both equally bad in these days) I might lead you to think so.

R.L.S.

RLS in a photograph by Sir Percy Shelley, Bournemouth 1885 [http://rogers99.users.sonic.net]

https://edrls.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/stevensons-handwriting/

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