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Original letters from Eliza to Yorick

Elizabeth Draper (1744-1778)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Original letters from Eliza to Yorick (MSS SC 4).  This is a bound volume of twelve handwritten letters supposedly written by Elizabeth Draper to Yorick (Laurence Sterne) prior to her departure from England for India in 1767. The manuscript is nearly identical to the 1775 publication noted above; however, a few significant differences exist. Phillips placed the following note at the end of the manuscript: “A Fourth full Copy from the Original MSS’s done at Berhampore on the Island of Cossimbazar in Bengall [sic] this 12 day of August 1783.”

Elizabeth Draper, wife of Daniel Draper who was Secretary to the Government at Bombay, India, went to England in 1765 with her family in order that her children could be given an English education. Her husband returned to India that same year, but Elizabeth remained in England with the children. In 1767 she met Laurence Sterne, the noted author of Tristram Shandy, and the two began a very close friendship. Mrs. Draper was forced to leave England on April 3 of that same year due to the demands of her husband that she return to India. During the week before her departure, Draper sent several letters to, and received several letters from Sterne. Draper was able to return to England in 1773 and became known as Sterne’s “Eliza.” A publisher persuaded her in 1775 to publish Sterne’s letters to her, yet was unsuccessful in obtaining access to her responses to Sterne. Later in the year, the twelve letters contained in this manuscript were published with E.S. Draper listed as the author. They are currently considered anonymous parodies of the type of letters Draper would have written.

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