Exhibition of Mother Magdalen’s letters

A small exhibition is now available for viewing in the display case of the Venerable Magdalen Taylor Heritage Centre in Taylor House, St Mary’s Convent, Brentford. This comprises letters of Mother Magadlen which are part of the project to transcribe and edit Mother Magdalen’s letters, and include materialdating from 1855, when she was working as a Crimean War ‘volunteer nurse’ up until her death in 1899. The exhibition will be available for viewing until mid-July, and if the archivist is unavailable access to the room may be possible on application to Sr Sheila Lee or Sr Kathleen Coleman.

A brief description is given below:

These letters have been selected as a small sample of the c.2,500 letters which are being transcribed and partially re-edited by the team of Tony Finerty, Alison Quinlan and Paul Shaw in the SMG Archives, aided by a team at Mater Dei Convent who are producing electronic versions of letters already transcribed. In many cases the letters had been transcribed by hand sometimes on multiple occasions, and versions of some have appeared in previous biographies of Mother Magdalen, or in printed compilations produced for internal distribution. But by returning to the original letters, many of which were very fragile, and have been painstakingly conserved (see for example letter ref. I/A/3/1/1/13) we are aiming to produce definitive electronic versions of the letters, preserving Mother Magdalen’s precise wording and characteristic style of writing and layout, and including editorial notes to provide context and assist with dating, as the originals are seldom dated. In some cases only later or contemporary transcriptions written by other hands have survived, requiring the team to carefully compare different versions: this is particularly the case with Mother Magadlen’s very valuable ‘circular’ letters to groups of Sisters, or to the whole congregation (see I/A/5/3/2/2/1).

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