British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries includes over 100,000 pages of material assembled from numerous bibliographies and from newly conducted research. Alongside the published material are 4,000 facsimile pages of previously unpublished manuscripts. British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries spans more than 400 years of personal writings, bringing together the voices of women from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
All forms of diaries—religious, travel, and journalistic—enrich the content of the collection. The mix of topics includes Australia, actresses, China, convent life, courtesans, court life, criminals, families, festivals and fairs, hospital work, literary society and life, missionaries, Palestine, political life, educators, railroads, scientists, social reformers, voyages, world tours, women soldiers and sailors—to list just a few of the many subjects that are indexed.
Both the famous and the unknown populate the collection. The lives and thoughts of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Queen Victoria, Frances Kemble, Queen Elizabeth, Mary Wollstonecraft, Christina Rossetti, Florence Nightingale, and Maude Gonne can be compared with the experiences and ideas of ordinary women from all walks of life. The result is a collection that brings to life the thoughts, observations, pastimes, and daily habits reflecting the collective consciousness of women from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Other assets to the collections are materials licensed from The Imperial War Museum in London, including the unpublished letters and diaries of women who served during both world wars.