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Title: Beyond Byron, legitimising Lamb : the cultural context of Caroline Lamb's life and works
Author: Wetherall Dickson, Leigh
ISNI:       0000 0001 3424 1564
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2006
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This interdisciplinary thesis is concerned with the works by and cultural perception of Lady Caroline Lamb (1785-1828). Focusing upon her three published novels, Glenarvon (1816), Graham Hamilton (1822) and Ada Reis (1823), I will argue that, when considering the texts in the social and political context of Lamb's life, the novels can be read as a critique of the moral bankruptcy and political ineffectiveness of her milieu of the Whig aristocracy, in which she includes herself and her notorious affair with Lord Byron. Though Lamb's fictional portraits of Byron, particularly in Glenarvon, have been read as an expression of her spleen, they are more than that: it is a continuation of her sophisticated critique of contemporary Whig morality and politics. A close reading of the texts will discuss Lamb's choice of the novel as a vehicle for her critique as one that is informed by the orientation of her writing towards the intended readership of her own milieu. This thesis will offer a new perspective upon how much Lamb was prepared to willingly submit her own experiences and that of her immediate family to the scrutiny of public gaze as a means to ensure the efficacy of her communicative intent, and how the construction of the novels reveals an hitherto unsuspected sophistication in the assessment of her readership and of the most effective vehicle by which to reach them. This thesis will also undertake a reassessment of Lamb's cultural legacy as an hysterical woman, fatally obsessed with Byron, and how this perception of her has diminished her reputation as a writer, undermined her critique of the aristocracy, and which has been exacerbated by biographical and fictional representations. Thus this thesis considers Lamb as a writer of significant interest that goes beyond the inhibiting presence of Byron by taking into account the wider cultural and political moment of production to offer a more productive reading her work.
Supervisor: Hopkins, Lisa Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available