‘I woke with a feeling of agony’

This special series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.” Part 2 focuses on Frances Eliza Grenfell, whose parents forbid her to spend her life with the man she loved. So she secretly wrote him letters, spilling her broken heart and feverish longings, page after page after page.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 2 focuses on Frances Eliza Grenfell, whose parents forbid her to spend her life with the man she loved. So she secretly wrote him letters, spilling her broken heart and feverish longings, page after page after page.

“I dreamt a long letter came from you, & I opened it, Oh! how well I can see it now, & as I was eagerly beginning the first page, I woke with a feeling of agony, for to have read it in a dream w[oul]d have been a blessing. I slept again; & again a long long letter was brought to me in your hand – I opened it, I found it was my own writing inside – the Journal I had kept for you.”

Examine images of her beautiful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin