Socio-cultural and Didactic Aspects of M. M. Speransky’s Personal Correspondence with his Daughter and British Relatives of his Wife




M. M. Speransky, Elizaveta Speransky, Joseph Planta, British Museum, private relations, personal history


This article explores the connections that M. M. Speransky had with the relatives of his prematurely deceased wife, Elizabeth Jane Stephens. Her mother came from the Swiss family of Planta, who had moved to England in 1752. Methodologically, this research is based on the “new biographical history” or “new biography”, the methods of microhistory and the gender principle in biographical research. The author reconstructs the nature of Speransky’s interaction with the Planta family on the basis of correspondence preserved in his collection in the Department of Manuscripts of the Russian National Library with Joseph Planta the Elder (1744–1827), Director of the British Museum, and with his son, Joseph Planta the Younger (1787–1847), who held a post in the Foreign Office. Joseph Planta the Elder was a prominent intellectual of his time, and his son was directly connected with the British Foreign Office during one of the most turbulent periods in European history, and such connections could not but leave their mark on Speransky’s own life. The author concludes that the maintenance of long-term links with his wife’s family, with whom Speransky was not personally acquainted, testifies to the importance of these family ties, both for Speransky himself and for his daughter. Speransky actively encouraged and supported his daughter’s correspondence with Barbara Planta, her grandmother’s sister, and sought to provide his daughter with a European education, with an emphasis on the study of foreign languages, including English. It is concluded that the correspondence with the Planta family allowed Speransky himself to feel involved in both British and European culture, and to raise his daughter in this paradigm, instilling in her a European identity.

Author Biography

Kseniya Sozinova

PhD (History), Associate Professor, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-6980-5881


A Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland. (1816). L., Printed for Henry Colburn. 459 p.

Badilatti, M. (2017). Die altehrwürdige Sprache der Söldner und Bauen. Die Veredelung des Bündnerromanischen bei Joseph Planta (1744–1827). In Swiss Academies Reports. Vol. 12. No. 6. 82 S.

Boas Hall, M. (1984). All Scientists Now: The Royal Society in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press. 168 p.

Bychkov, A. F. (Ed.). V pamyat’ grafa Mikhaila Mikhailovicha Speranskogo. 1772–1872 [In Memoriam Count Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky. 1772–1872]. (1872). St Petersburg, Imperatorskaya publichnaya biblioteka. 855 p.

De Beer, G. R. (1952). Andreas аnd Joseph Planta, F. R. S. In Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. No. 10 (1). pp. 8–14.

Druzheskie pis’ma grafa M. M. Speranskogo k P. G. Masal’skomu, pisannye s 1798 po 1819 god, s istoricheskimi poyasneniyami, sostavlennymi K. Masal’skim (1862) [Friendly Letters from Count M. M. Speransky to P. G. Masalsky, Written from 1798 to 1819, with Historical Explanations by K. Masalsky]. St Petersburg, Tipografiya Vtorogo Otdeleniya Sobstvennoi Ego Imperatorskogo Velichestva Kantselyarii. 142 p.

Fraser, F. (2005). Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III. L., John Murray. 476 p.

Hartmann, B. (1951). Beiträge zur Biographie Martin Plantas. In Bündnerisches Monatsblatt. Heft 7–8, S. 193–207.

Howald, S. (2004). Insular denken. Grossbritannien und die Schweiz. Facetten einer Beziehung. Zürich, Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 267 S.

Korf, M. A. (1861). Zhizn’ grafa Speranskogo v 2 t. [Life of Count Speransky. 2 Vols.]. St Petersburg, Izdanie Imperatorskoi publichnoi biblioteki. Vol. 1. 283 p. Vol. 2. 388 p.

Minaeva, N. V. (2009). M. M. Speranskii v vospominaniyakh sovremennikov. Konets XVIII – pervaya polovina XIX vekov [Speransky in the Memoirs of Contemporaries. Late 18th – First Half of the 19th Centuries]. Moscow, Sobranie. 341 p.

Moore, W. (2009). Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore. N. Y., Three Rivers Press. 400 р.

OR RNB [Department of Manuscripts of the Russian National Library]. Stock 380. List 1. Dos. 555; Stock 731. Dos. 894, 898, 899, 1823, 1927, 2323, 2235.

Pis’ma Speranskogo iz Sibiri k ego docheri Elizavete Mikhailovne (v zamuzhestve Frolovoi-Bagreevoi) [Letters from Speransky from Siberia to His Daughter Elizaveta Mikhailovna (Married Name Frolova-Bagreeva)]. (1869). Moscow, Tipografiya Gracheva i Co. 253 p.

RGIA [Russian State Historical Archive]. Stock 1689. List 1. Dos. 1. No. 2.

Sozinova, К. А. (2020). “Sledy moikh slez ostanutsya na etoi bumage…”: pis’ma Elizavety Stivens M. M. Speranskomu [“Traces of my tears will remain on this paper…”: Letters from Elizabeth Stephens to M. M. Speransky]. In Nauchnyi dialog. No. 8, pp. 412–427. DOI 10.24224/2227-1295-2020-8-412-427.

The Gentleman’s Magazine. (1814). Vol. 115 (Jan. – June); (1847). Vol. 182 (July). Tomsinov, V. A. (2003). Sud’ba reformatora, ili Zhizn’ Speranskogo [The Fate of the Reformer, or the Life of Speransky]. Moscow, Norma. 272 p.

Yuzhakov, S. N. (1892). M. M. Speranskii. Ego zhizn’ i obshchestvennaya deyatelnost’. Biograficheskii ocherk [M. M. Speransky. His Life and Social Activities. Biographical Sketch.]. St Petersburg, Tipografiya tovarishchestva “Obshchestvennaya pol’za”. 88 p.



How to Cite

Sozinova, K. (2024). Socio-cultural and Didactic Aspects of M. M. Speransky’s Personal Correspondence with his Daughter and British Relatives of his Wife. Quaestio Rossica, 12(2), 539–556.



Problema voluminis