Friday, May 27, 2011

Of the Newest and Best Fashion

Sometime in the 16th-century, young Elizabeth Carew wrote to her father in London. The formality of the letter would surprise most modern readers, but the subject matter might not. She asked him for a new satin gown "of the newest and best fashion."

We have this cataloged as a letter from 1590, which would mean Elizabeth Carew was the daughter of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and Anne Carew. If so, then the dress was most certainly a success. The next year, Elizabeth was secretly married to Sir Walter Raleigh, leading to his arrest and imprisonment.

But, more likely, this Elizabeth Carew was one generation earlier, the daughter of Elizabeth Bryan and Nicolas Carew. That would make the more famous Elizabeth her niece and date the letter from the middle part of the century.

The letter is on display through June 30th in our current student-curated exhibition, "Bringing out the Leaves: Manuscripts and Their Meaning."  After June 30, just ask for Lansburgh 29 to see it.

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