Corvey home page    
 Sheffield Hallam University
 Corvey home page
 Introduction to the Corvey collection and SHU Corvey project
 Guided tours around the Corvey website
 Corvey Women Writers on the Web
 Belles Lettres, Women's Writing, and Travel Writing Catalogues
 Students' Journals, Adopt-an-Author projects
 News, Events, Activities, Conferences, Updates

Corvey 'Adopt an Author'

Maria Jane Jewsbury

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University


Plot Synopsis of The Three Histories by Maria Jane Jewsbury.

The Three Histories was published in 1830 and is subtitled, 'The History of an Enthusiast', 'The History of a Nonchalant', and 'The History of a Realist'.

'The History of an Enthusiast' is the longest of the three short stories. Julia is an orphan and lives with her grandmother, Mrs Carhampton. She has no brothers or sisters and is a very energetic child who often gets into mischief. She discovers a love for literature and it is soon realised that she a genius. She has a thirst for knowledge however her grandmother has a very negative impression of literature, due to her late son- in- law, and locks away all the books except the Bible. As Julia grows older she does receive a slight education but is read to and somewhat nurtured by the local Reverend and his family. This family named, the Percy's has an elder son, Cecil, who is a few years older than Julia. The readers' automatically think that they will end up together as they are both so passionate about books and seem to get on very well together, however we are told by the narrator to stop assuming. Cecil leaves to go travelling for a few years and before he leaves we are shown extracts from Julia's diary and realise the she has fallen in love with him. As a child, when asked what would she wish for in her future, she asks for 'Fame'. Her friend who is also asked the same question chooses to be a charming wife. Both girls achieve their goal however their happiness is far from equal. Julia realises too late that she wants Cecil and her true happiness would lie with him. When she next sees him it is to say goodbye as he is going away to India with his wife. He finds a drawing of himself done by Julia and the affection she has secretly held all these years is revealed. However they both know it is too late and after a poignant separation Julia decides to go travelling by herself.

'The History of a Nonchalant', is a story about a son, named Charles who is expected to follow in his father's footsteps of the family business however he cares not for this type of work. His passion is wisdom and the arts. A work college, Guise Stuart, becomes a friend to both the father and son but is less trustworthy than either of them think. He manages to turn the parent and son against each other whilst reaping the benefits of becoming partners in the business. He manages to persuade the father to send Charles to Italy to do some work there, Charles loves Italy and this description of the country reminds the reader of Corinne. Charles falls completely in love with a women who is half Italian and half English and asks his father for permission to marry her, however makes the mistake of telling his so called friend the truth that he has already married her. The Father threatens to cut him out of his fortune if he does not come home and in the mean time the deceitful Stuart is playing up to both parties. Unfortunately Charles and his knew wife find it difficult to live as they have little money and after a while Egeria becomes very ill, so ill they travel to Britain. Charles appeals to his father for help, once back in the country but puts the letter in the same envelope as the one to Stuart, inevitably his father never received the letter. Egeria dies and Charles is heartbroken. His Father turns up the next day and all is revealed that Stuart has been tricking them all this time and that the father would have helped in any way possible. We are left with a very bitter ending; the father did not abandon his son but he found out to late to help him and he lost the love of his life.

'The History of Realist' is a tale about family honour. The Winton's business has gone bankrupt and when Richard takes over he wants to clear his family's name before living his own life. He has a very good head for business and so manages to do this although it takes many years. He is in love with a gentle yet strong minded women named Sophia, she understands that they can not be married until the Winton name has been cleared and she is prepared to wait. Richard is very honest and truly loves his wife-to-be Sophia, so much so that he stands by her family when in financial trouble, gambling his own reputation. Sophia's father runs a bank, which Richard uses and is one of the main providers. A bank clerk runs away with a considerable amount of money and it is a gamble whether they will get this money back or not. Either way if Richard withdrew his money it would mean the end for Sophia's father. Luckily the gamble pays off the thief is punished. This is the only story in the trilogy, which has a happy ending; Richard marries Sophia and has a comfortable and happy life.


Back to Index Page