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English Department

Digitisation of the Mary Hamilton Archive (Letters and Diaries)

In this project, students at the English Department in Zürich are working together towards an incremental digitisation of the Mary Hamilton Archives. The originals are found at The University of Manchster Library.

Mary Hamilton (1756-1816) was a governess to the daughters of Queen Charlotte at the court of George III between 1777 and 1782. In the years following her life as a courtier, she enjoyed life as an independent woman in London, where she had contacts with the blue stocking network, a circle of intellectuals around Elizabeth Montague, Elizabeth Vesey, Frances Burney and others (amongst them also Samuel Johnson and Horace Walpole). In 1785, she married John Dickenson. The couple had one daughter (Louisa, born 1787).

In 2011, with the help of the Federal Fund for Equality, I acquired digital images of part of the archive (both letters and diaries) with a view of using them in teaching.

As part of their coursework, students at the English Department will transliterate selected letters and diaries from the archives. These transliterations will be fully XML compliant and use TEI standard coding for features like deletions, additions or questionable readings.

The aim of this project is to build up an electronically readable corpus over the next few years. This corpus will then be made searchable via a password-protected CQP interface. Ultimately, the plan is to align concordance entries with the original letter manuscripts.




I am indepted to the Federal Fund for Equality (Eidgenössisches Büro für die Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann). Their grant enabled me to acquire the digital images used in this project.

I am grateful to Nuria Yáñez-Bouza for drawing my attention to the archive. She also established the contacts with people at the Rylands library. Hadn't it been for Nuria's five-year research leave, we would have collaborated on using the archive in teaching.

Moira Kindlimann has been involved as the XML wizard on this project. Ville Marttila provided useful information on annotation schemes.

The following students have all contributed transliterations over the years:

a) Letters

Sandrina Balsliemke, Rossella Blattmann, Michelle Buado, Julia Burger, Kerry Reilly Cornelli, Holly Evans, Nicolas Fischer, Robert Horvat, Jennifer Keller, Melanie Lacroix, Mirjam Schmalz, Rahel Strickler, Doron Toggenburger, Gregor Vasconcelos, Marlene Willi, Adrian Wolfensberger and Melanie Zgraggen

b) Diaries

Anne Gardner (involved in transliteration and for post-doctoral research)

Thanks also go to Fran Baker, Carol Burrows, Suzanne Fagan, and Gwen Jones from The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester.

Collaboration on transliteration of letters and diary entries is planned with Professors Cheryl Nixon ( and Louise Penner ( at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, US, who are working towards a book edition of material from the Mary Hamilton archives.





Prof Dr Marianne Hundt

English Department

University of Zurich

Plattenstrasse 47

8032 Zurich



Mary Hamilton Archive Digitization project poster (click on the image to download the PDF)


Gardner, Anne, Marianne Hundt, and Moira Kindlimann. 2017. Digitization of the Mary Hamilton Papers (PDF, 1 MB). ICAME Journal 41, 83–110. (download)


Unterseiten von Lady Mary Hamilton