The Black Letters

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The Black Letters is the title of a volume published in January 1817 by the bookseller Titus Watkins, containing private correspondence sent from Venice by Jonathan Strange in December 1816 to his brother-in-law Henry Woodhope. The publication was unauthorized and was most likely brought about by the agency of Gilbert Norrell or his adherent Henry Lascelles[58].

The correspondence referred in large part to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the 'death' of Strange's wife: but according to Henry Woodhope certain changes were made to the original letters and, cumulatively, the effect of these tamperings was to hint to the reader that Strange had murdered his wife by magic. In addition, all references made by Strange to Mr. Norrell's connexion with Lady Pole had been removed[58].

In the interests of truth Rev. Woodhope eventually made the original letters available to John Segundus, who included accurate transcripts in his The Life of Jonathan Strange[57]. For some time however considerable damage was done to the public reputation of Strange, who continued to be suspected of murdering his wife until she herself returned to England in early 1817 and thus refuted the allegation[69].