See all diaries
Download audio guide
The Diary Podcast
More online exhibitions
January 21 through May 22, 2011
Exhibitions | Online
Diary of Frances Eliza Grenfell (1814–1891), 1841–42. Gift of Sir John Pope-Hennessy in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Morgan, 1974.
Dear Diary, Dear Beloved: Frances Eliza Grenfell (1814–1891). Forbidden to correspond with Charles Kingsley, the man she adored, Fanny Grenfell kept a diary in the form of unsent love letters instead.
About the Diary
Twenty-five-year-old Fanny Grenfell was drawn to the emerging Catholic revival movement in England and looked forward to a life of chastity. Cambridge undergraduate Charles Kingsley, son of an Anglican clergyman, was having serious doubts about his own faith. All that changed dramatically when the two met in 1839. Their passion for each other was strong and immediate. Fanny guided Charles into a firm embrace of Christian doctrine, and Charles convinced Fanny that sex—within the confines of marriage—was a sacred blessing.
Warning penned in the diary of Frances Eliza Grenfell (1814–1891), 1841–42. Gift of Sir John Pope-Hennessy in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Morgan, 1974.
The journal became Fanny's outlet for the exalted feelings—"the inexhaustible torrent of my love"—that she was unable to express directly to her beloved. Using over 600 exclamation points to punctuate her breathless declarations, she wrote of their tenuous plans for a reunion ("I have been vibrating between Hope & Fear"), the strength of their love, even in separation ("time & space seem conquered & vanish away!"), and, occasionally, of the strain she felt in defying her family ("no man can appreciate the sacrifice a woman makes in a case like this"). Desperate for word from Charles, she dreamed that she had received a letter, but, upon opening it, "found it was my own writing inside — the Journal I had kept for you."