Mary Hays Correspondence 


 The correspondence for this decade is dominated by two women, Eliza Fenwick and Penelope Pennington. Fenwick moves from London to Ireland, where she serves as a governess to the Honner family near Cork, and then joins her daughter Eliza, and her husband and young child in their new home in Barbados, where Fenwick begins a new life directing a day and boarding school for daughters of wealthy West Indian families. Penelope Pennington was married to William Pennington (1740-1829) of Dowry Square, Hot Wells, Bristol, master of the ceremonies for many years at the Hotwells. Pennington (d. 1828) was the former Penelope Sophia Weston, having been in her youth a friend of Hester Thrale Piozzi and the Bluestocking poet, Anna Seward, and appears often in the latter's published letters.  Hays's hopes for a lasting abode surrounded by intelligent, literary-minded women would not materialize in Bristol, and family duties would call her back to London in 1816 after about a two-year absence, but she did complete two books while in Bristol. While there, she attended the Lewin's Mead Unitarian still led by John Prior Estlin (friend and correspondent of Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and later corresponded with some of her fellow boarders in the Pennington's Dowry Square mansion, including one A. Smyth of Lismore, Ireland. 


To view complete transcriptions of the letters from this decade, click on the appropriate year below: