The correspondence of the Puritan divine Richard Baxter (1615-1691) is an unusually rich source of evidence for seventeenth-century history, in particular for the period's involved ecclesiastical history and its intellectual, cultural, and bibliographical tastes, as well as for Baxter himself. The 1250 or so extant letters, spanning 1638-1696 and varying in length from brief notes to mini-treatises, are exchanged with a very wide range of correspondents and touch on
a great variety of topics, from pastoral advice and theological controversy to current political affairs and legislation. The great majority of the letters, often undated and unattributed, have never been published. The present Calendar makes the substance of the
correspondence fully available for the first time. The chronological sequence of the letters is established, correspondents are identified with full biographical information, and the occasional and essential subject of every letter is indicated. In the great majority of cases detailed summaries are given, often with extensive quotation verbatim; and all persons, books, and other matters of fact mentioned in the letters are glossed and annotated. There are also indexes of persons, of places, and
of Baxter's works. In the course of annotation and contextualization, the Calendar frequently corrects or expands standard reference works, while the letters themselves often supply previously unknown information about the period.
'a treasure-trove for seventeenth-century English historians, and especially for those interested in the comparatively neglected 1650s ... These volumes have been edited with a care that befits their long gestation. Each "letter" is accompanied by biographical information and details of the appropriate historical context ... a work that gives riveting insights into the world of seventeenth-century English Puritanism and Dissent.'
Times Literary Supplement
'The two volumes now published represent the completion of a Herculean task. For those of us who can never hope to examine the originals this is an indispensable substitute. A full apparatus of valuable bibliography is also constantly present in the editorial notes. The Calendar contains a mine of information on the theological controversies of Baxter's era. Many are and will be indebted to the editors for such a careful labour of love.'
Iain H. Murray, The Banner of Truth
'the apparatus is magnificent: books and persons are identified, discussions and printings of letters noted, heresies defined, secondary literature referred to, and, crucially, pertinent passages from the Reliquiae juxtaposed with the letters ... Nuttall and Keeble have rightly ignored the print/manuscript boundary: they have included printed dedicatory epistles, and over 400 letters which are extant only in printed versions. Their superb calendar
allows the fullest exploration of the finest flowering of English Protestant epistolary culture.'
Mark Goldie, Churchill College, Cambridge, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 44, No. 1, 1993
'This work is a scholarly and accurate record of the voluminous letters and prefatory epistles of Richard Baxter, together with correspondence from those who were his admirers and adversaries. The material is a treasure-house for those eager to study, in depth, the history, theological concerns, social conditions and pastoral styles of 17th century England, during the Commonwealth and Restoration period. The Bibliography and Indices are superb, the volumes
are a delight to handle and a tribute to Clarendon. A major historical resource.'
James Robertson, Theological Book Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 1994
'all students of the politics and religion of England of the mid- and later seventeenth century will welcome the erudition, exactitude, and good sense of this fine edition ... There is a great range both of subject-matter and of correspondents ... these are not editors to take short cuts. Their invaluable and beautifully produced compilation will be used largely as a calendar, but also deserves to be read through. There is no more vivid a guide to the
religious landscape of the period.'
Blair Worden, St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Review of English Studies, Vol. 45, No. 179, Aug '94