Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855), author of Our Village and other works, lived at Swallowfield at the period of these letters. For biographical information see Constance Hill, Mary Russell Mitford and her Surroundings (London 1920); W.J. Roberts, The Life and Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford (London 1913); and Vera Watson, Mary Russell Mitford (London, n.d.), all in the Berkshire Record Office library.
The majority of the letters in this collection are addressed to William Cox Bennett (1820-1895), a poet and watchmaker who was a friend of hers. Other letters from Mary Russell Mitford to William Cox Bennett are held at the Huntingdon Library, California.
Henry F. Chorley, another correspondent, was a young critic who in 1872 edited a volume of Miss Mitford's letters.