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Zoë Kinsley

This article considers the ways in which eighteenth-century womens travel narratives function as autobiographical texts, examining the process by which a travellers dislocation from home can enable exploration of the self through the observation and description of place. It also, however, highlights the complexity of the relationship between two forms of writing which a contemporary readership viewed as in many ways distinctly different. The travel accounts considered, composed (at least initially) in manuscript form, in many ways contest the assumption that manuscript travelogues will somehow be more self-revelatory than printed accounts. Focusing upon the travel writing of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Katherine Plymley, Caroline Lybbe Powys and Dorothy Richardson, the article argues for a more historically nuanced approach to the reading of womens travel writing and demonstrates that the narration of travel does not always equate to a desired or successful narration of the self.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Victoria Joule

In this article I demonstrate the significance of a flexible approach to examining the autobiographical in early eighteenth-century womens writing. Using ‘old stories’, existing and developing narrative and literary forms, womens autobiographical writing can be discovered in places other than the more recognizable forms such as diaries and memoirs. Jane Barker and Delarivier Manley‘s works are important examples of the dynamic and creative use of cross-genre autobiographical writing. The integration of themselves in their fictional and poetic works demonstrates the potential of generic fluidity for innovative ways to express and explore the self in textual forms.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Claire Harman

This article looks at Frances Burneys contribution to life writing through her composition, preservation and curatorship of her own personal archive and management of family papers. It charts Burneys chronic anxieties about the possible interpretation of the record that she had created, and the tension between self-expression and self-exposure which underlay her very revealing difficulties with editing, archivism and publication.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Sonja Boon

In this article I use conceptual frames drawn from autobiography studies and feminist theory to examine the relationships between bodily experience and the social construction of sex, gender and class as they play themselves out in a selection of womens medical consultation letters written to the eminent Swiss physician, Samuel-Auguste Tissot, during the second half of the eighteenth century. My analysis of a selection of consultation letters - all of which are situated and read in the context of a rich archival collection of some 1,200 letters - considers the role that bodily experience plays in the construction of self and suggests that not only the experience, but also the textual articulation of the body, were imagined both through and against accepted understandings of sex, gender and class during this period.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Lisa Crawley

Through her own words, Mary Hamilton demonstrates the rich resources available for the study of an elite womans life during the latter part of the eighteenth-century and allows us to resurrect more fully the life of a member of an elite circle of women during this period. Her diaries reveal the many opportunities that she had to meet with a number of the significant figures of her day, and shed light on how her academic efforts were perceived by those around her. This article shows how her writings offer researchers an insight into eighteenth-century society as viewed and lived by a woman who was close not only to the centre of high society but also to the intellectual elite of the day. It considers how valuable a resource the diaries and papers are as a potential research tool not only for the study of women‘s history but as a rich resource for the period.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library