Mariana Starke

As I explain on the ‘Women Writers and Italy’ page I met and was charmed some time ago by feisty Mariana Starke (1762-1838), author of the first guide book to Italy – indeed the first guide book as we know it, to anywhere.

I have read, I think, all Mariana’s extant correspondence – the bulk held among the papers of her publisher in the John Murray Archive  and in Fitzwilliam Museum, among the papers of her mentor, William Hayley. In addition I have copies of a few letters held in US manuscript collections. I have, in fact, become a Mariana Starke stalker – visiting her various homes – Hylands House in Epsom, the birthplace and home of her youth, and the two places between which she divided her time in the last 40 years or so of her life – a house on Beacon Hill at Exmouth and Cocumella, a former monastery overlooking the Bay of Naples at Sorrento. It is all been most enjoyable – and on ‘Woman and Her Sphere’ I will share something of Mariana’s life – and that of her forebears. For who knows what it is that goes to forming such a singular character?


26 July 2012 What Mariana Starke was not

1 August 2012 What Mariana’s great-grandfather was

8 August 2012: Great-grandfather’s will

22 August 2012: Great-grandfather’s house

14 September 2012: Grandfather Spurns Virginia for India

20 September 2012: Father is Worsted by Robert Clive

8 October 2012: An Epsom Education

2 November 2012: The Mystery of the Bodleian Diary

7 January 2013:  Mariana Starke: First Productions

8 April 2014: Mariana Starke: ‘The Sword of Peace’, 1788

17 April 2014: Mariana Starke: With Thanks To Mrs Crespigny From ‘The Poor Soldier’, ‘The British Orphan’ And ‘The Widow of Malabar’

26 June 2014: Mariana Starke: Toxophilia – And Then To Italy, 1791

12 January 2015: Mariana Starke: Travels in Europe 1791-1794

5 January 2016: Mariana Starke: ‘Buy A Copy’: recently discovered letters of the 19th century travel guide writer Mariana Starke

  1. #1 by John Starke on November 23, 2012 - 6:25 pm

    Ms. Crawford,

    I have enjoyed reading your essays on Mariana Starke. I have read “The Sword of Peace” and “Letter from Italy.”

    I notice that you have cited William Hayley Papers, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Is this the primary source? Also, where have you found records for St. Dunstans in the East, to which you refer in the last essay?

    Thank you. Keep up the commentary.


    • #2 by womanandhersphere on November 23, 2012 - 8:19 pm

      John ~ the Hayley Papers are the primary source for information on Mariana Starke in the years prior to the family’s departure for the continent in 1791. Although, having said that, you will have read my piece on the diary in the Bodleian Library that I have just identified as being the work of Mariana’s patron and friend, Mrs Crespigny. That will give a little more information on their association in the year of the diary, which just happens to be 1791. But, as I only managed to identify it after my return from a day trip to Oxford I shall have to go back and read it more closely now that I know who the diarist was.

      There are a few other letters by Mariana – and her mother -, dating from 1794-7, included in the Flaxman Papers in the British Library that I shall refer to when I reach that point in her story. In addition there are a couple of 1817 letters in the Houghton Library at Harvard, of which I have copies.

      And the papers of her publisher, John Murray, held in the National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh), contain many idiosyncratic letters from Mariana about the publication of the various editions of her Travel Guide.

      I used, to identify the late-17th century Starkes. The database has utilised the St Dunstan’s parish records, but I haven’t looked at them in person.

      I shall draw on all these in the coming months as I do what I can to resurrect Mariana Starke.

      Can you trace any connection? I have wondered if a brother (possibly named John Starke) of old Thomas Starke might have settled in Virginia?

      Best wishes

  2. #3 by John Starke on November 25, 2012 - 2:07 am

    Do you have another email for a less public discussion. John, Thomas’ brother, was my 7x ggf. Their Father, Thomas, was baptised at St. Dunstans in 1616. Also, I know my nineth cousin, the 7xgg son of Thomas, the Merchant. My cousin is the 4xg nephew of Mariana Starke.

    That is to say that we look forward to your future posts.


  3. #4 by andrew ashfield on May 29, 2015 - 9:03 pm

    There are several poems in the Monthly Magazine c. 1808ff, original, paraphrases from Italian, and imitations. AA

  4. #6 by Alexander Molle on November 23, 2015 - 12:10 pm

    I have just found, amongst family papers, two and a half letters from Mariana Starke to her friend my Great Great Grandmother Catherine ‘Mrs. Colonel Molle’. Respectively they are dated April 10th 1828 from Rome, March 1835 from Naples and 20th November 1835, apparently from Devon. If they will be of some interest, I can make as many photocopies of them as you wish.
    Yours sincerely, ‘A.J.’ Molle.

  5. #7 by Diana Spencer on April 22, 2016 - 5:58 pm

    Am about to recommend these “Stark” pieces to our students going to Rome for their study tour 🙂

    • #8 by womanandhersphere on April 24, 2016 - 10:50 am

      It was lovely to meet you – it was such an enjoyable evening. Alas, Mariana Starke has rather suffered in that my attention has been diverted to ‘suffragetting’ of one kind or another. But I must put up more posts about her -she’s such a diverting character.
      Best wishes

      • #9 by Diana Spencer on April 30, 2016 - 7:02 pm

        I’m agog to read more 🙂

  1. Mariana Starke | Professor Hedgehog's Journal

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