New courtship letters from the 1840s South


January 1, 2015


The Belles of Williamsburg

The Courtship Correspondence of Eliza Fisk Harwood and Tristrim Lowther Skinner


Edited by Mary Maillard

ebook ISBN 978-0-9917893-1-3 January 2015

$35.00 from Kindle, iBooksKobo

The Skinner Family Papers project is pleased to announce the publication of its third ebook of antebellum letters selected from the Skinner Family Papers housed at the University of North Carolina’s Southern Historical Collection.

With a uniquely organized name index and rich annotations, The Belles of Williamsburg: The Courtship Letters of Eliza Fisk Harwood and Tristrim Lowther Skinner 1839-1849 sheds new light on the complex social, familial, and romantic elements of antebellum courtship in a decade not well represented among available primary sources.

A fascinating family story emerges from these documents, unique in its depth, scope and continuity. The detailed descriptions of everyday life challenge our contemporary ideas of belles and debutante balls, redefine this society within the context of a devastating economic collapse, and dispel the Gone With the Wind myth of a languid planter class basking in sun-drenched abundance.

The Belles of Williamsburg completes the antebellum ebook series launched in 2014 with On the Carpet: The Coming of Age Letters of Penelope Skinner 1832-1840 and Albemarle Son: The Coming of Age Letters of Tristrim Lowther Skinner 1833-1849.

Mary Maillard’s monograph, A Map of Time and Blood: An Introduction to the Skinner Family Papers 1826-1850 presents an overview of the Skinner family of Edenton, North Carolina, spanning the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. As Maillard explains, the Skinners’ attitudes towards slavery were complex, contradictory, and conflicted, particularly in that the family had evolved in three generations from antislavery Quakers to slaveholding planter elites.

Eloquent and considered, the letters are a pleasure to read and would appeal to students, historians, and non-academics interested in the South and its history.