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The two quiet lives are Dorothy Osborne, writer of the famous love letters to William Temple, and Thomas Gray, poet, Cambridge don and friend of Horace Walpole. They lived a century apart, but as David Cecil shows, were temperamentally akin. Both were reserved, introspective and prone to melancholy: both appeared awkward and difficult save to the few to whom they opened their hearts: both commanded a fund of humour and imagination and possessed an instinctive feeling for style: and both enjoyed an inner life which was vivid, strong and exciting.
David Cecil’s subtle and sympathetic study of two remarkable natures is a sustained piece of exquisite scholarship which reads as engagingly now as it did when first published in 1948.
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