Circles of Friendship

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“These images are acts of communication, however hermetic they are now. This book was made for an audience to whom the makers of these signs could explain their meaning—or not, as they wished. The absence of explanation makes the experience of looking at the album now unavoidably painful, in a sweet way: It inspires nostalgia for someone else’s life.”—Elizabeth C. Denlinger 

“Circles of Friendship” is the inaugural installment of “Public Access,” a brand-new series co-presented with the New York Public Library. Each installment will present a treasure from the Library’s extraordinary collections; this first piece showcases an exquisite “friendship album” from the turn of the 19th century found in the Library’s Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, introduced by its curator, Elizabeth C. Denlinger.

Educated at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University, Elizabeth C. Denlinger is the curator of the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle at the New York Public Library. Her books include Before Victoria: Extraordinary Women of the British Romantic Era (Columbia University Press, 2005) and, with Stephen Hebron, Shelley’s Ghost: The Afterlife of a Literary Family (University of Oxford Press, 2011). She was the guest curator of It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200 with the Morgan Library and Museum in 2018. Denlinger is one of the general editors of the Shelley-Godwin Archive (, offering high-quality digitized and transcribed manuscripts of the Shelleys, Mary Wollstonecraft, and William Godwin.