The letters that passed between Mark Pattison--revered scholar and renowned educational reformer--and Meta Bradley--Pattison's cherished friend and confidante--are among the most remarkable and intimate records of middle-class life in Victorian England. Often moving, sometimes sad, they tell the story of an extraordinary friendship between the Rector of an Oxford college, a married man in his seventies, and a woman some forty years his junior. In character Pattison was an original, the possible prototype for George Eliot's Dr. Casaubon in Middlemarch. After his marriage to the beautiful and artistic Francis Strong went sour, he became friendly with Meta Bradley. But when the sharp disapproval of their friends, relatives, and Oxford society prevented more than occasional meetings, an almost daily correspondence by letter became their primary recourse. These 450 or so letters, most never before published, paint detailed portraits of the enigmatic Pattison and other leading personalities, and provide unique first-hand insights into the lives and values of Victorian academic and middle-class society. The editor offers a valuable commentary on the personalities and issues involved in the correspondence, and in a conclusion follows the lives of the central characters in the years after Pattison's death.