Sir John Everett Millais, John Henry Newman, 1896Oil on canvas.

A man’s life lies in his letters,” Newman wrote to his sister Jemima in 1863, adding that it was often difficult to print correspondence in full, yet distorting to print extracts. Posthumous publication was at the mercy of “the perspicacity or straightforwardness of an Editor.” The late Father Charles Stephen Dessain, of the Birmingham Oratory which Newman founded, felt so strongly that extracts would misrepresent Newman that he determined the letters and diaries must be printed in their entirety. The result was an astonishing thirty-two volumes, of which Dessain lived to edit twenty-one. They...

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