Visualizing Sancho’s Correspondence, Part II

Francesca Giannetti & Catherine Naeve

Our Data

“A thing of shreds and patches…”

letter_id recipient_id2 recipient_location date_sent
v2ltr02 psn003 NA 1778-07-26
v2ltr03 psn013 NA 1778-07-23
v2ltr04 psn004 NA 1778-07-23
v2ltr05 psn014 NA 1778-07-31
v2ltr06 psn017 NA 1778-09-04
v2ltr07 psn003 NA 1778-09-16


correspondent id
H[oward], Mrs. psn009
Browne, Charles psn010
Soubise, Julius psn011
Stevenson, William psn012
Cocksedge, Margaret psn013
Rush, Roger psn014
Sterne, Laurence psn015

Plotting Correspondents and Their Locations

An interactive overview of the correspondents’ locations follows on the next slide. There are a total of 28 unique correspondent-location pairs in volume 1 of the Sancho correspondence. Clicking on the markers will produce a popup with additional information about the correspondents.

Sancho’s Correspondence Network


A close-up of Sancho’s London correspondents follows on the next slide. Here we might benefit from some additional detail about the people mentioned in the letters (not only the correspondents themselves).

Letters by Subject

A preliminary glance at our subject tagging indicates that family, health, and friendship are Sancho’s most frequently mentioned topics. This column in our dataset could benefit from some additional normalization and systematization.

Letters by Year

This interactive plot highlights the numerous gaps in the record. We have taken Carretta’s dates over those printed in the first edition, which results in a significant reordering of the letters. Sancho’s garrulousness as a correspondent suggests that we are lacking a great many letters for him, which is of course not unusual for a historical figure. The Sterne letter is a chronological outlier.

Possible Future Directions

Studies of Place

The bird’s eye view of a 2D map is good at giving overviews of quantitative data. But what about Sancho’s lived reality in 3D London, Richmond, or Dalkeith? Exhibits, narrative and/or deep mapping are better at recreating this sort of information.

Nework Analysis

The Digital Mitford Project (Beshero-Bondar et al.) is exploring how personal letters are connected to Mary Russell Mitford’s published fiction, poetry, and plays. Their first steps in this direction were to examine how Mitford’s sonnets connect to her letters (and literary productions) via mentions of persons, places, and publications. We could do something similar with the names of people mentioned (as well as their trades, classes, races) in Sancho’s correspondence. This might help to recreate a fuller picture of his social world.


The Digital Cities Research Network (DCRN) has a study group dedicated to Ignatius Sancho’s London. They have in fact created many similar visualizations. Worth collaborating on data creation?