An exhaustive, conscientiously documented biography of Jane Welsh Carlyle, brilliant wife of that erratic man of letters, Thomas Carlyle. The Hanson's method holds closely to the contents of many hitherto unavailable letters, with the result that only from ay does the reader learn of Jane's almost fabled wit and charm. Her letters, though bright, deal largely with her many dissatisfactions. Five years of correspondence during he courtship minutely traces advance and retreat, dull to anyone other than the participants. Glimpses of famous names, visitors at Jane's salons, have little vitality- none of the Pepys's quality. Perhaps this stems back to Jane's self-centered concern with her allments, and fancied abuses. Speculations as to the Carlyles' sex life, an issue with successive generations, are scrupulously avoided. There is nothing of the talents an imaginative youngster such as anecdotes of her childhood indicated, in the maturing woman. Possibly because she had sublimated her gifts to those of her husband. the result (how different from Townsend Scudder's entrancing Welch is sterile reading.