Learning from Stephen Burroughs: republication and the making of a literary book in the early United States

Cervantes, G. (2016) Learning from Stephen Burroughs: republication and the making of a literary book in the early United States. William and Mary Quarterly, 73(4), pp. 711-740. (doi: 10.5309/willmaryquar.73.4.0711)

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Publisher's URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/634677


Criminal and con man Stephen Burroughs (1765–1840) lived a checkered life, and he drew on his experiences in a popular autobiography, Memoirs of Stephen Burroughs (first published in two volumes in 1798–1804). As scholars have shown, author and narrative reflect postrevolutionary political and economic crises. The perspective of book history reveals another story, one dominated by republication—the practice of bringing already-published material into public view once more and adapting it for a diversity of readers. In composing Memoirs, Burroughs drew from newspaper items and a wide range of British and American poems and poetic extracts circulating in books, periodicals, and poetic collections. Once it was published, the popularity of Memoirs was secured by its many editions. Some of these catered to a demand for cheap entertainment. Others garnered the support of prominent schoolbook author and publisher Caleb Bingham, and proffered moral, affective, and literary guidance. In all these aspects, Burroughs and his Memoirs illuminate the development of early U.S. literature within a local, early national, and transatlantic chamber of echoes.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cervantes, Dr Gabriel
Authors: Cervantes, G.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:William and Mary Quarterly
Publisher:Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
ISSN (Online):1933-7698

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