The Wodrow-Kenrick Correspondence 1750-1810: Volume I: 1750-1783

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Reverend James Wodrow (1730-1810), minister of the Church of Scotland at Stevenston in Ayrshire, and Samuel Kenrick (1728-1811), tutor to a Renfrewshire family until 1763, and subsequently a merchant and banker in Bewdley, Worcestershire, began corresponding soon after leaving the University of Glasgow in 1750. They continued to do so until James Wodrow's death in 1810. Unusually, around 85% of the letters on both sides survive, held in manuscript in Dr Williams's Library, London. Volume I of this edition covers the years 1750-1783. Their correspondence is an exceptionally rich resource for the study of British culture and society in the era of Enlightenment and revolutions but one which has been underused, despite its value, and which ought to be much more widely known and available to scholars working in a range of fields.

In lively and highly readable letters, Wodrow and Kenrick discussed politics, religion, reform, revolution, theology, international affairs, society, the economy, education, family, friendship, health, books, and many other concerns. Sustained over six decades, the correspondence reveals the lives of two highly literate provincial men and their families during the high and late Enlightenment, and the age of revolutions. Because they disagreed on some matters, notably the American and French Revolutions, they wrote lengthy and passionately-argued letters about them which are here made easily available to scholars for the first time. Samuel Kenrick lived in England from 1765, and the men only met again in 1789, so their friendship was carried out almost entirely on paper for forty-five years. The correspondence constitutes a remarkable record of a friendship.

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