Alan and Mary McQueen Simpson introduce this selection from Jane Carlyle's letters with an assessment of her character, her marriage to 'my Man of Genius' Thomas Carlyle and her art of letter writing. The letters are arranged in sections corresponding to the main themes in her life. The selection begins with the strange, prolonged courtship; portraits, conscious and unconscious, of herself and her husband follow; much is about running the Chelsea house at 5 Cheyne Row, protecting Carlyle from noise, neighbours and bedbugs; a whole section is devoted to a Dickensian succession of mostly awful servants; another is about her 'outings' - including a deeply poignant account of her return to her childhood home; another deals with Carlyle's infatuation with Lady Ashburton as well as Jane's 'puddling health' and her recovery. This is a book to read right through with riveted enjoyment. It is one of the most fascinating correspondences in the English language.