New 30 Day Display: Sarah Wesley Correspondence & Poetry

Pitts’ new window to its world renowned collection of rare books and archives, the 30 Day Display, has changed faces for April! Housed on the main entry level of the library, the 30 Day Display highlights a new rare book or archival item every month, complete with a state-of-the-art, customized exhibition case and digital display. The Emory community and beyond is invited to drop by the library to view the item on display (find Visitor Policies here).This month, Pitts highlights items from Sarah Wesley’s Correspondence and Poetry (MSS 159).   

Sarah Wesley (1759 or 1760-1828), known to friends and family as “Sally,” was the only surviving daughter of Charles Wesley (1707-1788). She was a devoted daughter and sister, as well as traveler and socialite. Sarah was also a poet, though her works were never published. On display here is a personal letter Sarah sent to her long time friend, Dr. Thomas Griffin Tarpley. The letter is addressed with the request, “To be opened at my Death.” In the letter, dated February 1788, about a month before her father died, Sarah explains, “There is no other Person in the World to whom [Sarah] would entrust these Papers,” and she insists she would have “burnt all if [she] had not promised [Tarpley] in the year 1777, their Perusal at [her] Death.” Sarah notes that the papers were largely written while she was in her teens, and she asks Tarpley “to destroy all that have an immediate tendency to Religion & Morality,” insisting that “none of them will be found.” Whether Tarpley destroyed the papers is unknown. Curiously, the collection of poems and notes on display here, one of which is addressed to Tarpley himself and many of which are dated between 1777-1779, may show that Tarpley deemed Sarah’s words too precious to destroy.

The 30 Day Display is available for viewing during library open hours on Level 2 of Pitts Theology Library.