Fantasies and Transformations The Inner Worlds of Sarah Martha (Serena) Holroyd 1739-1821

Marvin Stern


On New Year's Eve 1801 Sarah Holroyd sister of John Baker Holroyd (Lord Sheffield) wrote to his eldest daughter, Maria, "I can hardly at times believe Louisa and you are not really my own. . . ."   Linked with her fantasy of mother/ daughter was the fantasy of a young "companion:” from 1788 on, she was chaperoning Harriot Clinton, daughter of General Sir Henry Clinton at every opportunity——right down to Harriot's marriage with General Harry Chester in 1799. Her craving for "some young friend"   was a pattern thirty years later in Lady Louisa Stuart’s view of “Lou” Clinton, who had been exiled from her family by her mother Louisa Holroyd. (And SHE had been exiled—thrown out of the family--because of the hostile sentiments of her father.) The pressures of life for women in these families—with the resulting exile or obsession--drew their fire from the tight cordon of life’s roles that were allowed for them.

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