(Joanna, 1762-1851, Poet & Dramatist)
Autograph Letter Signed to 'Dear Sir',
saying "I have this moment received your very obliging invitation for this evening, and beg to assure you that both my Sister", (Agnes, 1760-1861), "& myself would have had great pleasure in joining your agreeable party ... had we not been engaged with friends whom Mrs Baillie has kindly invited to meet us here ...", 1 side 8vo and conjugate blank, Cavendish Square, London, 'Friday' no date, watermarked
Joanna Baillie, younger daughter of Dr James Baillie, (c. 1722-1778, Professor of Divinity at Glasgow), had in 1784 moved to London with her mother and sister, to keep house for brother Matthew (1761-1823, the famous physician and anatomist). By the time of this letter they were well settled in Hampstead. 'Mrs Baillie' will be Matthew's widow, Sophie, (1771-1845, daughter of the obstetrician Thomas Denman), and who lived at 33 Cavendish Square. Joanna and her sister regularly stayed there when in Town
For fifty years Joanna and Agnes had as close friends many important figures in literature and .the sciences. Sir Walter Scott always visited Joanna when in London, and Joanna always stayed with him when in Scotland.
The sisters always talked of new things with their guests. Joanna was both excellent company and shrewd, and her plays have a psychological depth which contrasted with the lavish spectacles then in favour. Joanna explained that they worked best in small, intimate theatres, well lit, where facial expressions could clearly be seen. This depth - Scott called her 'our own Shakespeare' - has attracted renewed interest in the age of the small screen.