"The Shirley Letters" is a compilation of actual letters written by Dame Shirley (Louise Clapp) from the California mining camps in 1851 and 1852. They give a rare female perspective of the era and offer a vivid picture of gold rush life, from accounts of "murders, fearful accidents, bloody deaths, a mob, whippings, a hanging, an attempt at suicide, and a fatal duel" to bars lined with "that eternal crimson calico which flushes the whole social life of the Golden State," and the rare and welcome luxury of oyster feasts.
The sights, smells, and even the sounds of the mining camps come alivethe echoes of swearing men, the flume with its "dismal moaning and shrieking all the live-long night," the barking of mongrel dogs. With the "wild grandeur and awful magnificence" of the Sierra as background, this classic account presents a picture of the gold rush that is at times humorous, at times empathetic, and always trustworthy.
The letters aren't always easy to read -- Dame Shirley's rather extravagant and overly-literary style can be cumbersome, but in one way, that's part of their charm.
The book includes an introductory section that gives biographical background on Dame Shirley and the era nd place she writes of.
Pat T. (patt8888) reviewed The Shirley Letters: Being Letters Written in 1851-1852 from the California Mines on
I love reading memoirs from the past,especially from this time period.I read it when I was in high school and always wanted to read it again now,so was excited when I actually found it.
The author is very detailed and deiscriptive of the "Gold Day Rush" times.She has a beautiful way of writing a style long lost to us.That alone makes it come alive for the reader.Its simple reading,but puts you there...