State Library of NSW

Love letters


George and Elizabeth Bass correspondence, 1801-1803

A Peculiar Romance

Love letters Oh Bess we ought to be, we must be, surely, shall be happy with each other again. Write to me a long, very long letter, open thy soul, pour upon the paper rough as it arises, thy hopes thy fears, thy joys, place thyself before me let me see my honest Bess.
George Bass to Elizabeth Bass, 18 March 1801

my George I want longer Letters what success you meet with, a discription of the places you go too, what sort of Ladies you meet with … inshort everything that happens to you till our happy meeting.
Elizabeth Bass to George Bass, 9 November 1801

George Bass left England in January 1801, having married Elizabeth Waterhouse only three months earlier. They would never meet again. Bass sailed out of Sydney Harbour on 5 February 1803 and was most probably lost at sea. No information has ever been found about him or any of his crew of twenty-five.

The twenty-two letters exchanged between George and Elizabeth Bass across the oceans are a rare example of the genre. George wrote short, witty, sometimes rather cruel, though, in his way, loving letters, giving little information on his daily doings. Elizabeth wrote very long letters filled with laments and anxieties, but always loving and hopeful of the future.
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