Epistolae Ho-Elianae

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Epistolae Ho-Elianae (or Familiar Letters) is a literary work by the 17th-century Anglo-Welsh historian and writer, James Howell. It was mainly written when Howell was in the Fleet Prison, during the 1640s; but its content reflects earlier travels he made from 1616 on behalf of a London glass factory.[1] It appeared in three volumes from 1645 to 1650. A fourth volume was added in a collected edition of 1655.

It has been suggested that some of the letters are fictional.[2] The selection of the recipients has also been attributed to patronage relationships.[3] A "Mrs. A. W." who occurs as recipient has been fitted to another letter by Howell to provide a tentative deductive identification of the author of A Continuation of Sir Philip Sydney's Arcadia (1651) as Anna Weamys, who is not otherwise traced as a writer.[4]

As travel literature, Howell's work largely neglects scenic description. But some of the language used has been described as a possible source for the work of Joshua Poole on epithets.[5]

The fourth edition (1678) was published by Thomas Guy, and profits went to founding Guy's Hospital in London.


  1. ^ Woolf, D. R. "Howell, James". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13974.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ http://www.bartleby.com/217/0811.html
  3. ^ Gary Schneider, The Culture of Epistolarity: vernacular letters and letter writing in early modern England, 1500-1700 (2005), p. 228; Google Books.
  4. ^ Collins, Jane. "Weamys, Anna". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/68376.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: the development of the aesthetics of the infinite (1997), pp. 60–1; Google Books.

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