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Following Ford's death in 1858, William Stirling-Maxwell proposed editing his letters for publication; he also contemplated writing a biography, which he would illustrate with extracts from his letters. To assist with these projects, neither of which were realised, Mary Ford set about retrieving her husband's letters from his close friends.

In 1859 Henry Unwin Addington send a packet of 397 letters to Mary Ford telling her that 'you will be pleased to use your own judgment in making over to Messrs Hughes and Stirling such of these letters as you may think it fitting to put into their hands; and in withholding such as may seem unfit for the inspection of other eyes than ours' (ref. NGA48/2/1/2). She passed these to William Stirling-Maxwell, then engaged in writing a life of Ford, who reported in 1865 that he 'had gone carefully over all the letters to Mr Addington, selected those most necessary & valuable for autobiographical use - had extracts from the rest & noted down a number of questions - on points that were obscure & worth explaining - which I fowarded to Mr Addinton' (ref. NGA48/2/2/102).

With Mary Ford's approval, Rowland E. Prothero edited a selection of Ford's letters to Henry Unwin Addington, which was published in 1905.

Mary Ford was an avid collector of autographs (see NGA48/2/1/46 & 69). The collection (known as 'The Pencarrow Collection') was formed from the 1880s onwards and comprised 19 folio volumes (bound in red morocco) of manuscripts and letters of famous historical and literary figures. It was sold at Sotheby's on 8 December 1999. Various letters in NGA48/1 and NGA48/2 derive from this collection and were acquired post-sale from the dealers Christopher Edwards, Roy Davids and Quaritch; see acquisition file for details.

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