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Jane Maxwell

The poor survival rate of primary sources for the history of Irish women in the early modern period is mitigated by the sophistication with which extant sources are now being analysed. When re-examined without reference to the demands of the traditional historical grand narrative, when each text itself is permitted to guide its own interrogation, previously undervalued texts are revealed to be insightful of individual existential experience. The memoir of eighteenth-century Dorothea Herbert, hitherto much ignored due to the authors mental illness, is becoming increasingly respected not just for its historic evidential value but for the revelations it contains of a distressed individuals use of literature to manage her circumstances. The interpretive tools deployed on such a text by different research specialisms necessarily lead to divergent conclusions; this in turn may lead to creative re-imagining of history although they cannot all equally reflect what was likely to have been the lived reality of the original author.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Ashley Cross

‘Writing Pain’ argues that Anna Seward‘s Letters (1811) and Mary Robinson‘s letters (1800) create alternative models of sensibility from the suffering poet of Charlotte Smith‘s Elegiac Sonnets. Immensely popular, Smith‘s sonnets made feminine suffering a source of poetic agency by aestheticizing and privatizing it. However, despite their sincerity, her sonnets effaced the physical, nervous body of sensibility on which Seward‘s and Robinsons early poetic reputations had depended and for which they had been mocked. The popularity of Smith‘s model made it an important model for women poets, but, by the end of the eighteenth century, sensibility was also associated with sickness and artifice. For Seward and Robinson, who wanted to build their literary reputations but were living with disabled bodies, Smiths example needed to be reimagined to account for the reciprocity of body and mind as they struggled to write through pain.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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Eamon Duffy
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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Jeremy Morris
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
D.G. Paz

This article addresses three topics. It describes Chartisms creation of a ‘peoples history’ as an alternative to middle-class history, whether Whig or Tory. It locates the sources, most of which have not been noticed before, for the Chartist narrative of the English Reformation. William Cobbetts reinterpretation of the English Reformation is well known as a source for the working-class narrative; William Howitts much less familiar but more important source, antedating Cobbetts History of the Protestant Reformation in England, is used for the first time. The article reconstructs that narrative using printed and manuscript lectures and published interpretations dating from the first discussions of the Peoples Charter in 1836 to the last Chartist Convention in 1858. The manuscript lectures of Thomas Cooper are an essential but little-used source. The article contributes to historical understanding of the intellectual life of the English working class.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
John Wolffe

This article explores evangelical perceptions of the Reformation, with particular reference to the commemoration in 1835 of the tercentenary of the publication of Coverdales English Bible. The first half of the nineteenth century saw a growth in evangelical interest in the Reformation, although historical understanding of the sixteenth century was initially unsophisticated and simplistic equations between past and present were widespread. The 1835 commemoration exposed a tendency to use history as a tool in contemporary controversies between Anglicans and Protestants Dissenters, as well as in the polemics of both against Roman Catholics. It also, however, helped to stimulate the growth of serious scholarly inquiry and publication about the Reformation, notably in the formation (1840) of the Parker Society. The commemorations of the tercentenaries of the accession of Elizabeth I (1858) and of the Scottish Reformation (1860) provide concluding vantage points from which to view the development of historical understanding of the Reformation during the preceding quarter century.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Judith Richards

Although the reputation of Englands first queen regnant, Mary Tudor (died 1558) had remained substantially unchanged in the intervening centuries, there were always some defenders of that Catholic queen among the historians of Victorian England. It is worth noting, however, that such revisionism made little if any impact on the schoolroom history textbooks, where Marys reputation remained much as John Foxe had defined it. Such anxiety as there was about attempts to restore something of Marys reputation were made more problematic by the increasing number and increasingly visible presence of a comprehensive Catholic hierarchy in the nineteenth century, and by high-profile converts to the Catholic faith and papal authority. The pre-eminent historians of the later Victorian era consistently remained more favourable to the reign of Elizabeth, seen as the destroyer,of an effective Catholic church in England.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Alan Ford

The Irish Reformation is a contentious issue, not just between Catholic and Protestant, but also within the Protestant churches, as competing Presbyterian and Anglican claims are made over the history of the Irish reformation. This chapter looks at the way in which James Seaton Reid, (1798–1851), laid claim to the Reformation for Irish Dissent in his History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It then examines the rival Anglican histories by two High Churchmen: Richard Mant (1775–1848), Bishop of Down and Connor; and Charles Elrington, (1787–1850), the Regius Professor of Divinity in Trinity College, Dublin. It is clear that, in each case, theological and denominational conviction decisively shaped their history writing. Equally, however, significant advances were made by all three scholars in unearthing important new primary sources, and in identifying key points of controversy and debate which still represent a challenge to eccleciastical historians, of whatever denomination or none, today.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library