The writer and recipient of these engaging letters, Alexander Chisholm Gooden (born 1817), went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1836, having previously been educated at the University of London. A glittering academic career beckoned; he was top of the Classical Tripos in 1840, and in the following year went to Germany to read for a Trinity fellowship, but died tragically early from peritonitis after rowing on the Rhine.
The 169 letters between Gooden and his family and friends collected in this volume constitute a rich and hitherto unknown source for student life in Cambridge in the 1830s. They cover a wide range of topics: friendships, local politics, accommodation, clothing and bills, the personalities and vagaries of dons, and Gooden's health. They also give a detailed picture of his career as a student of classics and mathematics, and, after his examination success in 1840, as a private tutor to undergraduates.The differences between Cambridge and London styles of scholarship caused difficulties for Gooden; they offer the reader an unusual and interesting light on his struggle to succeed at Trinity.
JONATHAN SMITH is Archivist at Trinity College Library, Cambridge; CHRISTOPHER STRAY is Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Classics, University of Wales, Swansea
[An] affecting slice of Cambridge life. CAMBRIDGE SOCIETY MAGAZINE