Corresponding women project: The Clairmont circle

from the correspondence of clara mary jane clairmont

Clara (Claire) Mary Jane Clairmont (1798–1879), English “governess” and member of the Shelley–Byron circle, writes here to her stepsister Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Too often narrowly defined by her role, the letter demonstrates a much broader range of responsibilities for a “governess”, from investigating stock options to searching out a good educational placement.

The “Cleary” for whom she is trying to find a finishing school is her twenty-three-year-old niece and namesake, Clara Mary Jane Elizabeth Anne (1826–1855) — also referred to as “Clari”, “Cleary” and “Clärchen”.


. . . I am somewhat worried with business — I must I am afraid go to London — because I want to see if I can get money upon the Bonds issued instead of dividends by the french Railway Companies. I must also look for a school for Cleary — I discard Liverpool. It must be either Brighton or London. I cannot have her farther from me than that. The best ladies schools are at Brighton — but there are a few very good ones in London. Will you answer this as quickly as you can? because time presses if I have to arrange for coming to see you. . . .

— Clara Mary Jane Clairmont to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,
Wednesday, 11 April 1849;
EE letter ID: claiclJH0020496a1c

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