Coherence and inclusion in the Life-Writing of Romantic-period London

Sangster, M. (2017) Coherence and inclusion in the Life-Writing of Romantic-period London. Life Writing, 14(2), pp. 141-153. (doi:10.1080/14484528.2017.1291246)

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Abstract

This article considers the ways in which London lives were written together during the Romantic period, considering representations across different genres and media including: poetry by William Wordsworth, Richard Horwood’s house-by-house Plan of the city (1792-9), Fores’s New Guide for Foreigners ([?1789]), the 1788 volume of Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, Richard Phillips’ Modern London (1804) and Pierce Egan’s Life in London (1820-1). It pays particular attention to recovering evidence of marginalised individuals, whose lives were never written at book or article length, but of whom traces survive in glimpses and in aggregated forms such as plate series and directories. It also discusses the life-writing of communities through the representation of common knowledge and the use of statistics, contrasting the confident assertions of knowledge made in guides, mapping and topography with the more conflicted and fragmented modes common in poetry and novels. Through examining these issues, it contends that there are considerable benefits in thinking of life-writing as being intrinsic to a far wider range of discourses than the standard biographical and autobiographical modes, arguing that a broader conception is invaluable for recovering occluded existences, modelling collective experience and understanding the hierarchies implicit in the ways in which lives are culturally inscribed.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sangster, Dr Matthew
Authors: Sangster, M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Life Writing
Publisher:Taylor and Francis (Routledge)
ISSN:1448-4528
ISSN (Online):1751-2964
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

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