Creative aspiration and public discourse : the prose, verse and graphic images of William James Linton (1812-1897)
This thesis sets out to show that William James Linton's writing as a coherent body of material is defined by his long-term preoccupation with authorship as a vocation. The argument concentrates on how this sense of vocation created the potential to combine personal creative aspiration as a form of self-fulfilment with the forms of public discourse attendant on his construction of models of culture which embraced and were adaptable to the emotional needs of the self in a society based on concepts of innate human equality. In recognising both Linton’s understanding of authorship in these terms, and the cultural significance of his work as a nexus of influences, the argument offers a balanced view of his development as a writer while dealing with the ramifications of his political and cultural affiliations on the form of his writing. This contribution to current interest in Victorian artisan-class culture is balanced by an equal emphasis on perceiving Linton's work, particularly his later writing, as valuable in its own terms. Organized into an Introduction and six chapters, the thesis begins with a discussion of the rarely utilised primary sources from which the argument has developed, and an evaluation of the rapidly growing body of critical studies on Linton’s work. Chapter One deals with the biographical and cultural context of Linton’s creative aspiration and public discourse as features of his political philosophy and as themes within his writing. The subsequent five chapters are a chronological survey of Linton's writing. Chapters Two to Four are particularly concerned with Linton's view of the role of individual creativity in political reform. Chapters Five and Six examine how he found an increasingly personal motivation for his writing while maintaining a search for an authorial voice through which to express his ideas of culture.